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Bicycle Accidents in Florida: An Epidemic?

Bicycle Accidents in Florida: An Epidemic?

Florida’s weather makes it a great state for cycling most of the year. Unfortunately, our roadways tend to be less than bike-friendly. While around 2% of the traffic fatalities in the US are bicyclists, Florida’s rate is easily more than double that. When a negligent driver in Florida causes an accident with a bicyclist, it is no surprise that the person with the most serious or grave injuries is the rider. Without a helmet, spinal injuries and traumatic brain injuries are more common.

Although not all roadway safety specialists agree on the specific reasons for that, there are certainly numerous factors that almost definitely play a role. The per-capita bicyclist death rate in Florida is almost 60% higher compared to the next closest state. As per the NHTSA report based on latest data from the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, there are 6.2 deaths per 100,000 people in Florida, compared to just 3.9 deaths per 100,000 people for Louisiana from 2007-2016.

To reduce the risk of an accident, bicyclists are encouraged to wear helmets, be more careful when riding close to vehicles, and stay visible by wearing reflective and bright clothing. Although there is no denying that these practices go a long way towards helping bicyclists lower their risks, they are often at the mercy of the vehicles surrounding them.

At Burnett Law, our Florida bicycle accident attorneys are dedicated to helping bicycle accident victims. Our attorneys can provide you the legal advocacy and support you need in order to recover damages for your injuries.

Causes of Fatal Bicycle Accidents in Florida

According to the statistics published in the Florida Traffic Crash Records Database, between 2013 and 2016, alcohol was the main contributing factor in up to 100 fatal bicycle accidents in Florida. These numbers show blood alcohol levels that range from .01 to .45. Over half (56) of the hundred people who had alcohol in the bloodstream had levels ranging from .16 to .30. 

Many bicycle accidents in Florida are caused because motorists fail to yield at stop signs, at intersections, and in a street lane, where a bicyclist has the right-of-way. Also, “dooring” is a common problem; it happens when someone opens their car door in the path of a bicyclist who is traveling either in the bicycle lane or a street that is adjacent to the parked car.

It is worth mentioning that just over half (51%) of the fatal bicycle accidents in Florida occurred when it was totally dark; this includes areas both without lighting as well as areas with lights. About 40% of the total fatal bicycle crashes occurred in daylight. On the other hand, dawn and dusk had the fewest accidents. 

It has also been observed that more accidents occur on Saturdays compared to any other day in the week. Moreover, accidents that happen at night are far more dangerous compared to those that occur during the daytime. 

Surprisingly, some factors were underrepresented. For example, the weather only contributed to about 23% of the accidents in the state. You will be surprised to know that nearly 80% of the fatalities occurred in clear and sunny weather, and in more than 90% of accidents, the ground was dry.

Common Injuries in Bicycle Accidents

Neck and back injuries are some of the most common injuries sustained in bicycle accidents in Florida. These contributed to more than 42% of total bike crashes that were recorded between 2007 and 2011. Injuries which followed after neck and back injuries involved damage to various internal organs; these amounted to more than 10% of the cases recorded.

Other common injuries sustained in bicycle accidents in Florida are bone fractures, closed head injuries, dislocations, and amputations, amounting to 6.73%, 8.82%, 3% and 1% of the accidents recorded respectively.

Injuries to the spine and brain can be the most traumatic and lead to hefty medical bills and long recovery times.

Where Do Fatal Bicycle Accidents Occur in Florida

Numbers reveal that 64% of the fatal accidents in Florida occurred in locations other than intersections. Note that these numbers include any place on the roadside. Also, of those accidents that happened at intersections, about 60% occurred at four-way stops and nearly 40% occurred at T-intersections.

In terms of area, the Tampa-St. Petersburg region led the country with 7 per-capita deaths followed closely by Jacksonville, Orlando, and Miami with 6, 5.8 and 5.4 per-capita deaths respectively.

Florida Biking Laws

To reduce bicycle accidents, motorists should be aware that bicycles are considered vehicles and have the same rights as automobiles on the roadway. If you must pass a cyclist, make sure you are providing them sufficient space. Look twice before crossing an intersection as a cyclist can easily be obscured by a tree or other object.

Cyclists must abide by Florida road rules, obeying all signals. In addition, they should have a light affixed to their bike if riding in the dark. While helmets are not required, they are strongly suggested and can be a lifesaving measure in case of an accident.

Recovering Damages and Compensation

If you or a loved one have been injured in a bike accident, you may be eligible for compensation for your future and present medical bills, property damage and loss of income. Also, if you are a family member of a person who died because of their accident-related injuries, you might be able to recover damages by filing a claim for wrongful death. In this case, recoverable damages may include burial and funeral expenses, loss of companionship, and loss of future earnings.

Injured in a Bicycle Accident? Contact Us

Our experienced Tampa bike accident attorneys are ready to collect all the evidence you need in order to prove that a negligent or reckless driver caused your bicycle accident. Together, we will work to help you put your life back together and help you fight for the compensation you deserve.

Don’t let someone else’s negligent driving cost you—contact Burnett Law today for a free consultation to learn more about your rights.