A report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) shines light on a disturbing trend in Texas and across the country: Fatal bicycle accidents are on the rise. In fact, they went up by 12.2 percent between 2014 and 2015 (the latest available National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data), which marked the largest single-year increase in nearly two decades, according to the GHSA.
As a law firm that protects the rights of injured bicyclists and their families in Houston and throughout Texas, we are concerned about why deadly bike-car collisions are happening more often in our state and elsewhere. Fortunately, the GHSA report provides some insight and provides suggestions on how to improve safety for cyclists.
Report: Lack of Attentiveness Is Driving Increase in Bicyclist Deaths
According to the GHSA, the number of bicyclist fatalities in the U.S. hit an all-time low of 621 in 2010. However, since then, deadly bike-car crashes have dramatically increased. The number of fatalities reached 818 in 2015.
Our firm looked at the Texas Department of Transportation statistics and saw a rise in bicycle accident deaths in our state. The data shows that, in 2015, 52 bicyclists died in crashes in Texas, marking a 3.8 percent increase from the year before and a 17.3 percent increase from 2010.
Additionally, the total number of bicycle accidents have gone up. In 2015, a total of 2,452 bike crashes occurred in our state, a less than 1 percent increase from the year before but a whopping 18.3 percent rise from 2010, when 2,001 crashes were reported.
One reason for this upward trend: More people bike today. In fact, an estimated 34 percent of Americans ages 3 and older rode a bicycle within the past year, the GHSA report states. Many of these cyclists are adults as well, who may ride for fitness or for their daily commute. The numbers should continue to rise thanks, in part, to bike-share programs such as Houston's BCycle program. The average age of cyclists killed in crashes in 2015 was 45, according to the report.
But a rise in the number of cyclists on the roads is not the sole factor. Instead, driver inattentiveness may be driving the fatality numbers higher.
The GHSA states that bicycle-car crashes frequently occur because the car driver fails to notice the cyclist pedaling on the side of the road or crossing at an intersection. In many cases, this lack of attentiveness results from the driver's distraction or the driver's impairment by alcohol or drugs.
Roadway Design Could Help to Prevent Fatal Bike Crashes in Texas
The GHSA report indicates that increasing public awareness will play a key role in reducing (and, hopefully, eliminating) fatal bicycle accidents in Texas and across the country. Drivers need to think more about how to share the road safely with cyclists. We must also continue to stress the dangers of distracted driving and drunk driving.
But road design can also play a key role. The GHSA points out that features such as marked bike lanes, bike boxes at traffic signals and traffic lights with advanced green signals for cyclists can make cyclists safer. Those features help to separate cyclists from car drivers.
Finally, cyclists can do their part. They should always follow the rules of the road and – perhaps most importantly – they should always wear helmets. A helmet can help to prevent traumatic brain injury and other serious and potentially fatal injuries.
Our Houston Bicycle Accident Attorneys Are Here for You
If you were recently injured in a collision with a negligent motor vehicle driver in Houston or elsewhere in Texas, or if you lost a loved one in a tragic bike accident, the attorneys of The Law Offices of Hilda Sibrian want to help you. Contact us today to discuss your case in a free consultation.