Everything You Need to Know About California Bicycle Accidents So You Can Safely Share The Road With Automobiles

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Everything You Need to Know About California Bicycle Accidents So You Can Safely Share The Roads With Automobiles

Everything You Need to Know About California Bicycle Accidents So You Can Safely Share The Roads With Automobiles

Apr 29, 2021

In California, we’re fortunate to have the advantage of virtually every month of the year being bicycle season. Given our accommodating climate, many Californians – particularly those in the Los Angeles-area – utilize bicycles as a primary means of transportation. Whether traveling to and from work, for social activities, or simply as a form of exercise, biking in California is a convenient and eco-friendly way to travel.

But with the enjoyment of bicycling comes the danger of traveling alongside cars, scooters, motorcycles, and large trucks – all of which can cause catastrophic injuries to a bicyclist in the event of an accident. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some statistics on bicycle accidents involving cars and other motor vehicles, and examine what tips experts recommend for ensuring everyone shares the roads and highways safely.

Statistics on Bicycle Accidents Involving Motor Vehicles

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2019, 846 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles. Though that figure is clearly tragic, it actually represents a 3% decrease from the number of bicyclist deaths that occurred the year before. Overall, bicyclist deaths have decreased 16% since 1975. However, the data from 2019 (the latest recorded year available) is evidence of an unfortunate 36% increase in bicyclist deaths since the lowest point in 2010 – ultimately the safest year on record for bicycle accidents in the U.S.

Here’s a snapshot of what those statistics entail when you dig a bit deeper into the details:

  • 90% of bicyclist deaths were those ages 20 and older.
  • Deaths among bicyclists younger than 20 have declined 90% since 1975.
  • Deaths among bicyclists 20 and older have tripled since that same time period.
  • With the exception of 1975, far more male bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles when compared to female bicyclists.
  • There has been a 34% decline among female bicyclists since 1975.
  • That figure (34%) represents nearly three times the decline among male bicyclists at only 12%.

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How Many Motor Vehicle Deaths Each Year Are Bicyclists?

How Many Motor Vehicle Deaths Each Year Are Bicyclists?
U.S. News & World Report between 2016 and 2018, bike fatalities in California hit a tragic 25-year high. More cyclists died in traffic accidents across the state than during any three-year period in the past 25 years.

The Association for Safe International Road Travel estimates that just over 38,000 fatalities occur every year in the U.S. as a result of motor vehicle crashes. Of those fatal motor vehicle collisions, it is estimated that about 2% of the annual deaths are bicyclists.

Which Age Group is Most Likely to Be the Victim of A Bicycle Accident?

Kids ride bikes every day for fun, though not necessarily on our busy roads and highways. As bicyclist deaths involving children have declined in recent years, bike riders age 20 and older are much more likely to be involved in crashes where injuries occur.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults aged 50 to 59 have the highest bicycle death rates. Children between the ages of five and 14, and adolescents between 15 and 19, have the highest rates of nonfatal bicycle-related injuries. Those demographics account for more than one-third of all bicycle-related injuries seen in U.S. hospital emergency rooms.

What Are Some Common Types of Bicycle Accident Injuries?

In a majority of bicyclist deaths, the most serious injuries tend to impact the head. This is one of countless reasons why wearing a properly-fitting bicycle helmet at all times is so important. In terms of head and brain injuries that can occur as a result of bicycle accidents, there are a number of different types. Some common examples include:

  • Skull fracture
  • Concussion (MTBI)
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Brain contusion
  • Intracranial hemorrhage

A bicyclist’s neck and back can easily be injured in a motor vehicle accident. Some common examples of these types of injuries include:

  • Herniated disc
  • Whiplash
  • Torn ligaments
  • Pinched nerves
  • Fractured vertebrae
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Lumbar sprains
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Thoracic spine trauma
  • Facet joint trauma

Additionally, a bicycle accident may result in severe injury to the rider’s hip. Some common examples of hip injuries include:

  • Hip fracture
  • Bursitis (an uncomfortable fluid-filled sac caused by impact/force)
  • Dislocation of the rider’s hip joint
  • Labral tear (affecting the torn cartilage surrounding the hip socket)

While it’s common to break or fracture bones and suffer head wounds in a bicycle accident with a motor vehicle, severe soft tissue injuries such as cuts and lacerations may also occur. Some common examples of these types of injuries include:

  • Road rash
  • Muscle sprains and strains
  • Scrapes and cuts
  • Bruises
  • Tendonitis
  • Puncture wounds

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How Important is Wearing a Bicycle Helmet?

How Important is Wearing a Bicycle Helmet?

The importance of wearing a bicycle helmet, particularly when traveling on roads or highways with multi-thousand-pound motor vehicles, cannot be overstated. It is absolutely critical that bicycle riders wear a helmet each and every time they get on a bike.

Some important statistics highlighting the necessity of wearing a bicycle helmet include:

  • 62% of bicyclists killed in 2019 were not wearing helmets (helmet use was unknown for 23%, meaning that figure could actually be much higher).
  • A study by the American Journal of Surgery (AJS) found the overall mortality rate for bicycle riders wearing helmets in crashes was 2.8%.
  • Helmeted bicycle riders had 51% reduced odds of severe TBI.
  • Helmeted riders had 44% reduced odds of mortality.
  • Helmet use also reduced the odds of facial fractures by 31%.

The conclusion from the AJS study was that bicycle helmet use provides “protection against severe TBI, reduces facial fractures, and saves lives even after sustaining an intracranial hemorrhage.”

Do Bicycle Accidents Often Involve Drugs or Alcohol?

Among bicyclists ages 16 and older who were killed in 2019, 21% had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) at or above 0.08%.

When Do Bicycle Accidents Most Commonly Occur?

Bicyclist deaths in 2019 involving motor vehicles occurred most frequently during July (12%) followed by August (11%).

What Time of Day Do Bicycle Accidents With Motor Vehicles Usually Occur?

Bicyclist deaths in 2019 occurred most often during the hours from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (21%).

Where Do Bicycle Accidents Most Often Occur?

Where Do Bicycle Accidents Most Often Occur?

In 2019, 78% of bicyclists were killed in urban areas like Los Angeles. This contrasts dramatically from data compiled decades ago. In 1975, bicyclist deaths occurred about equally in rural and urban areas.

Some additional statistics concerning locations of bicycle accidents include:

  • 35% of bicyclist deaths in 2019 occurred at intersections.
  • 65% of bicyclist deaths in 2019 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways.
  • 32% of bicyclist deaths occurred on minor roads.
  • Deaths of bicyclists younger than 20 were more likely to occur on minor roads compared with deaths of bicyclists ages 20 and older (51% versus 30%).

What Are the Steps to Take When Fitting a Bicycle Helmet?

Fitting a bicycle helmet is just like fitting your favorite hat or baseball cap – it can’t be too tight or too loose, and must fit properly in order to serve its intended purpose of protecting you in the event of an accident or crash. Helmets, like hats, are available in various sizes. However, depending on the bicycle helmet manufacturer, sizes can actually vary from company-to-company. The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute (BHSI) has identified six specific steps to take when selecting a well-fitting bike helmet. Let’s review those steps below:

Step #1 – Size:

Measure your head to find your correct size. Try on several helmets in your unique size until one feels right. Then, place the helmet level on your head and adjust the sizing pads (or fit ring) until the helmet is firmly in place or “snug.”

Step #2 – Position:

The helmet should sit level on your head and low on your forehead-one or two finger-widths above your eyebrow.

Step #3 – Side Straps:

Adjust the slider on both of the helmet’s straps to form a ‘V’ shape underneath (and slightly in front of) your ears. If applicable, lock the slider.

Step #4 – Buckles:

Center the left buckle under your chin (on most helmet models, the straps can be pulled from the back to lengthen or shorten the chin straps). The BHSI advises riders to remove the helmet when making these adjustments

Step #5 – Chin Strap:

Buckle your chin strap. Tighten it until it is firmly in place and so that no more than one or two fingers fit underneath the strap.

Step #6 – Final Fitting:

When determining whether or not your bicycle helmet fits exactly as it should, the BHSI suggests you “open your mouth wide” and proceed with a “big yawn.” When doing so, the helmet should pull down on your head. If this doesn’t happen, refer back to Step #5 and tighten the chin strap. Additionally, confirm your helmet does not rock back “more than two fingers above the eyebrows.” If your helmet rocks back more than two fingers, unbuckle it and shorten the front strap by moving the slider forward. Then buckle and retighten the chin strap for a new test.

You also want to be sure your helmet does not rock forward into your eyes. If it does, unbuckle it and tighten the back strap by moving the slider towards your ear. Then buckle and retighten the chin strap. Next, conduct another quick test. Finally, roll the rubber band down to the buckle – when you do this, all four straps on the helmet must go through the rubber band and be tight enough against the buckle to prevent it from slipping.

When you’re trying on bicycle helmets in search of the best fit, the BHSI recommends standing in front of a mirror so you can actually see what you’re doing. If a mirror isn’t available, ask someone else to adjust the straps for you. When shopping for bicycle helmets, the BHSI website offers an extensive list that includes all available sizes according to each unique manufacturer.

Do I Need to Hire a Los Angeles Bicycle Lawyer After an Accident?

If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, it is strongly recommended that you contact a proven personal injury attorney to ensure your legal rights are protected. Bicycle accident victims may be eligible for substantial financial compensation if negligence, ill intent, or mere human error was involved.

However, the at-fault party and his or her insurance company will likely do everything possible to reduce any due financial compensation for things like medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, lost earning capacity, mental trauma, and more.

Bicycle accident victims can, as demonstrated above, suffer extensive and often catastrophic injuries when the crash includes a car, truck, or motorcycle. Don’t let your right to financial compensation be diminished or even eliminated by high-powered attorneys and insurance companies.

If you experienced a bicycle accident injury, don’t wait to file a claim. Contact our expert attorneys online or by phone for a free consultation today.

The Dordulian Law Group Bicycle Accident Advantage

At DLG, we provide inured bicycle accident victims with unique advantages to help win their claims and ensure maximum damages awards – advantages that can’t be found at other firms.

We prepare every case for trial rather than settling for the first lowball offer from an insurance company or at-fault party’s defense team. If you take a look at some of our recent results, you’ll see that DLG consistently turns initial $5,000 settlement offers into multi-million dollar maximum damages awards for clients. With DLG, our clients aren’t just a number, and we work to recover the compensation you deserve so you can focus on what’s most important – your physical, emotional, and financial well-being.

Our team includes attorneys who previously worked as defense counsel for major auto insurers. Now, they fight for our clients against those same corporations. Additionally, we employ an in-house Chief Investigator – former LAPD Detective Moses Castillo – to gather evidence that can be the difference between a paltry $5,000 settlement and a multi-million dollar award.

If you’ve been injured in a Los Angeles bicycle accident, you deserve to be represented by the best team of personal injury attorneys who will maintain your interests at all time and fight to recover every ounce of financial compensation you deserve.

When you’re ready, we’re here for you. Contact us online for a free consultation or call 818-322-4056. We never charge a penny until you win maximum financial compensation for your bicycle accident injuries. With our 98% success record and history of successfully recovering over $100,000,000 for injured clients like you, it’s easy to see why the best answer for a bicycle accident injury is always DLG.

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