Many of us leave our bicycles behind the day we pass our driving test; we "graduate" from two wheels to four and never look back. We should reconsider. Bicycling can be a cost-efficient, environmentally-friendly transportation option or a healthy, calorie-blasting hobby. Sadly, the viability of the bicycle as an alternative to the car is hampered by the threat of bicycle accidents. At The Pittman Firm, we believe in making the roads safe for all travelers, whether they use four wheels, two wheels, or two feet. We are proud to serve as a law firm for bicycle riders in Panama City and to represent injured riders and the families of riders killed in Northwest Florida bicycle accidents.
An article in the Tampa Bay Times captures the danger facing riders throughout the state. A fellow rider refers to the moment an SUV struck the 56 year old victim in Pasco County as "the most horrifying thing I ever saw." The impact left the cyclist unconscious and struggling to breathe with a broken back and broken neck. Even more shocking is the moment that followed, when the driver slowed long enough to see that the rider was seriously hurt and then stepped on the gas and continued on his/her journey.
While the picture painted in the Tampa paper is particularly disturbing, the accident is far from an isolated event. This year the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") published its annual overview of Traffic Safety Facts on Bicyclists and Other Cyclists using data from 2012. The NHTSA found that 726 cyclists (the term "cyclists" includes riders of non-motorized vehicles powered solely by pedals and includes bicycle, tricycle, and unicycle riders) died as a result of motor vehicle crashes in 2012, a 6% increase over the previous year and making 2012 the deadliest year for cyclists since 2006. An additional 49,000 cyclists suffered injuries due to motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2012.
Who are the riders killed in motor vehicle accidents? They are overwhelmingly male; 88% of riders killed and 80% of riders injured due to a motor vehicle collision are men. The average age of these cyclist victims has been on the rise for the past decade. In 2012, the average age for injured cyclists was 32 and the average age for rider fatalities was 43. Interestingly, the population group with the highest fatality rate is the 45 to 54 year age range but the highest injury rate falls in the 10 to 15 year range.
Sadly, being in Florida appears to be another risk factor. Florida had the second-highest number of cyclist fatalities in motor vehicle crashes during 2012 with 122 deaths, only 2 fewer fatalities than occurred in California. However, since our population is substantially lower than California's, Florida holds the "top" spot as the state with the highest rider fatality rate per million residents.
Our temperate climate and beach culture probably means Florida has more cyclists than most other states, but the fatality rate is still a "first place" distinction we'd rather not hold. The presence of more cyclists means drivers should be more aware and more alert for pedal-powered travelers. Too many drivers are not only inconsiderate, they are also endangering riders due to their negligent driving.
If you or a loved one was riding a bicycle in Northwest Florida and a negligent driver caused a collision that left you injured or killed your love one, call our Panama City bicycle riders' attorney. Experienced injury attorney Wes Pittman can help you recover compensation and send a message that drivers will be held accountable for failing to share the road.
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