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Better understanding California's fatal bike accident problem

Earlier this week, we discussed the fact that California leads the nation in bicycle accident fatalities. We noted that with the sole exception of Florida, no other state even comes close to matching California’s rate of fatal bicycle accidents. This information is valuable, as it should inspire state and local lawmakers to embrace reforms designed to keep bike riders safer in the future. However, this statistic alone is not enough to understand the roots of the problem itself.

According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, over 700 cyclists were killed on American roads in 2012 alone. More than 120 of those fatalities occurred in California. The roots of this pressing safety issue are complex. Drivers and cyclists alike are increasingly distracted. Drunk driving is still a dangerous and urgent safety hazard. And frankly, most American roads were simply not built with cyclists in mind. American roads have largely been built to service motor vehicles and are ultimately dangerous for those individuals traveling via bicycle.

In addition, it is important to note that of the more than 700 bicycle fatalities in 2012, over two-thirds of victims were not wearing helmets. Protecting one’s head and body via helmets, pads and reflective gear is critical. Not all bicycle fatalities may be prevented if riders wear helmets, but many fatalities can be prevented in this way.

The other two important statistics one must understand when contemplating this issue are that more than 25 percent of cyclists killed in 2012 were drunk and that more than 85 percent of fatality victims were adult males. Improving public education on the matter of drunk cycling and improving bike safety education for adult males may aid in reducing bike fatality statistics.

Source: Findlaw Injured, “Fatal Bicycle Crashes On the Rise: 5 Facts You Should Know,” Daniel Taylor, Oct. 28, 2014

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