With the warmer weather finally arriving in Central Pennsylvania, bicyclists will be taking to the roads to enjoy exercise and fresh air, or even opting to pedal to work rather than driving. Pennsylvania roads, however, can be dangerous for cyclists. As the warmer weather arrives, so does the risk for injury and fatal bike accidents.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), preventable bike accident fatalities begin to rise in March, peak in August, and then start to decline as summer turns into fall. In 2020, most deaths occurred in August and the fewest in January.
So, what can we do to reduce the number of bike accident injuries and fatalities? Let’s first understand the data surrounding how and why bike accidents occur, what cyclists and motorists can do to reduce their chances of becoming injured in bike accidents, and finally what a bicyclist should do if injured in an accident.
Bike Accident Injury Statistics
As you may expect, when there is a collision between a bicycle and a vehicle, the bicyclist is more likely to be injured, or even worse, killed. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 846 bicyclists killed in crashes in 2020 and more than 415,000 emergency department-treated injuries associated with bicycles.
Other data about bike accidents include:
- According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), the total number of bike crashes has decreased over the last several years; however, the total number of fatalities saw a jump between 2019 and 2020.
- Pennsylvania bicyclists between the ages of 20-34 have the highest rate of both crashes and fatalities among all age groups.
- The NSC reports the number of preventable bicycle transportation deaths has increased 37% over the last decade.
- A bicyclist is more likely to be injured or killed in a collision where the vehicle was speeding.
- In PA, the majority of bicyclists’ injuries and fatalities occurred during daylight hours.
- In Pennsylvania, bicycle fatalities account for 2% of all traffic fatalities.
Although bicycle injuries and fatalities account for a small percentage of total traffic injuries and deaths, the issue of bicycle safety cannot be ignored. Bicycling can be a fun, healthy way to get outside and exercise, but it does come with risks. If you were involved in a bicycle crash that resulted in an injury, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. A personal injury case can help you make a monetary recovery for your medical bills, lost wages, and even pain and suffering.
How Bicyclist and Motorists Can Share the Road
Most accidents are preventable if both bicyclists and motorists share the road safely. If you are a bicyclist or a motorist, here are some ways to help prevent an accident – and injury – from occurring:
- Be Prepared: When hitting the road on your bike, plan your route before you leave for your destination. Check to see if there is a bike lane, and if not, if there is room for you to safely pedal in traffic. Check your bicycle to make sure the tires are properly inflated, and the brakes are working as intended. It’s always good to check the weather forecast as well to ensure you will not encounter poor weather and hazardous conditions.
- Wear Proper Safety Equipment and Clothing: Many bike accidents occur when a motorist does not see the bicyclist for various reasons. Do what you can to make yourself visible to motorists – wear bright clothing, preferably with reflective gear if you are traveling at dawn or dusk. Wear a properly fitting helmet, too, to reduce your risk of a head injury in a collision. Tuck your shoelaces into your shoes to prevent them from getting caught in the gears.
- Stay Sober: One in four fatal bicycle crashes involves a bicyclist who has been drinking. Operating a bike takes coordination, concentration, and a clear mind. Never drink and bike.
- Drive Defensively: When pedaling your bike, the same rules of the road apply to you as a bicyclist. Always go in the same direction as traffic and obey all traffic signs. Always assume a motorist cannot see you and maneuver your bike appropriately. Stay alert for potential hazards or situations that can cause you to lose control of the bike.
- Stay Alert: Because bikes are much smaller than vehicles, they are easy to miss if you are not paying attention. If you encounter a bicyclist, do not underestimate their speed, and yield to them as if they were driving a car. Always search your surroundings, including parking lots, stop signs, and especially if you are backing up.
- Check Your Mirrors: Check – and double-check – your mirrors for bicyclists, even if you are parked. Some collisions occur when a motorist opens their car door, and a bicyclist doesn’t have enough time or a safe space to move out of the way.
- Pay Attention to the Bike Lane: Many cities now have bikes lanes to provide bicyclists with a safe area to travel. If you are a motorist, do not use the bike lane; if you have to cross over it to make a turn, check your surroundings. Always do a shoulder check when making a right turn.
Again, many bike collisions can be avoided if both motorists and bicyclists keep these tips in mind and share the road together, safely.
If you were involved in a bike accident and were injured, you may have a personal injury claim. Bike accident injuries can quickly become expensive, and your bodily injury claim can help you recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, scarring, pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life’s pleasures. Before talking to the insurance company of the at-fault driver, consult with a personal injury law firm to understand your rights.
What to Do if You Are in a Bicycle Accident
Immediately after a bike accident, you may be confused or filled with adrenaline. Knowing what to do after a bike crash can make the difference in getting the medical attention you need and protecting your rights under the law. If you are in an accident with a motorist, or someone you know is in a bike accident, here are the recommended steps to take:
- Call 911: Even if you feel okay and there is minimal or no damage to your bike, still call 911. Let the police document the accident and record facts that can be helpful in a personal injury case.
- Seek Medical Treatment: Some minor bike crashes can cause injuries that are not immediately apparent, such as a concussion or an internal injury. At the scene, let the EMT examine you for injuries and follow up with your primary care physician after the accident as well. Your doctor will document your current health conditions and monitor you for any complications.
- Document the Scene: If you are able, document as much as possible at the scene. Take pictures of where your bike rests after the accident, the intersection or road where it occurred, and damage to both your bike and the vehicle. If there were witnesses to the accident, get their contact information. Ask for the driver’s contact information as well as their insurance info.
- Call Central Pennsylvania’s Best Bike Accident Law Firm: A personal injury law firm which has a wealth of experience in cases involving bike accident injury crashes can make all of the difference in the world. Having the right legal team on your side can help you recover maximum compensation for your injuries, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Getting top notch injury and accident attorneys involved early on can also increase the chances that your personal injury case will resolve with a lump sum settlement instead of protracted litigation.
Bike Accident Personal Injury Attorneys in Lancaster County, Pa.
At Georgelis, Larsen & Sabatino Injury Law Firm, P.C., we understand how stressful an injury accident can be not only for the victim but also for their family members. Our wonderful county is home to thousands of bicycle enthusiasts who hit the open road to take in the beauty of our area, get some exercise or just travel from place to place.
That beauty can turn tragic, in a moment, unfortunately. And associated injuries can result in weeks, months, or even years of pain, suffering, lost time from work, medical treatment and difficult rehabilitation. If you were injured, your main focus should be on your health, not on a personal injury case. Reach out to our team to discuss your case—we will handle everything else, while you focus on your recovery and family.
Georgelis, Larsen & Sabatino Injury Law Firm, P.C. has been representing the injured in Lancaster County and Central Pennsylvania for decades and has the knowledge, insight, resources and trial experience to get the maximum value from your personal injury claim while minimizing the “legal trauma” to you and your family. Our team of accident attorneys—two former assistant district attorneys and Philadelphia insurance defense insider—and paralegals has over 90 years of combined litigation experience and over 100 trials and thousands of hearings under our belt. Georgelis, Larsen & Sabatino Injury Law Firm, P.C. has won more than $85,000,000 for our clients and has over 180 Google reviews, all 5-stars. Start a live chat today to discuss your case or give us a call at 1-800-HURT-NOW for a free consultation. We never charge a fee for our time, and we are only compensated when we win your case.