The Most Important Things You Need to Know About Bicycle Safety

 

Bicycle Accidents Overview

With a few exceptions, the laws in Texas give bicycle riders virtually the same rights and responsibilities as people driving cars.  However, cyclists are – by their nature – less visible than other users of the road.  As such, learning how to ride defensively is imperative.

There were 1,024 deaths in the US in 2018.  Of those deaths, 682 were collisions with motor vehicles.  Men accounted for 87% of all bicycle deaths, over six times the fatality rate of female riders. The summer months are the deadliest months for riders. Data shows that, on average, there are a little over a thousand cycling deaths each year in the US.

Bike Accidents in Texas

Every year in Texas, approximately 60 cyclists are killed on the road.  The non-profit “Share the Road Texas” lists Houston as being one of the 10 most dangerous cities for bicyclists in the US.  Austin and Dallas also rank as being highly dangerous cities for bicycle riders.

Recently, legendary cyclist and two-time grand tour champion Nairo Quintana was struck by a motor vehicle while on a training ride with his brother during broad daylight. Nairo is as experienced as a cyclist can get and can handle his bike as well as anyone in the world.  If Nairo isn’t safe on the road, then it is safe to say that no one is. 

Visibility is Everything

After a cyclist wreck, we most often hear the car driver involved say they never saw the cyclist.  According to NHTSA,(National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), the most fatal collisions between motor vehicles and bicycles are caused by:

  1. -Distracted driving;Bike Safety Tips
  2. -Failure to yield right of way;
  3. -Backing up or pulling out without looking;
  4. -Turning at intersections;
  5. -Sideswiping cyclists on the shoulder or in the turning lane;
  6. -Making unsafe lane changes; and
  7. -Drunk driving

Knowing this gives us a very useful takeaway – visibility is everything!

Section 551.104b of the Texas Transportation Code requires that every bike has a white light on the front and a red light or reflector on the rear. Bright lights not only provide you with a wider field of vision, they ensure you are seen by others on the road.  When considering what parts of your bike to save on and what parts to splurge on, we highly recommend spending some money for a good pair of bike lights, as you very much get what you pay for with bike lighting and you shouldn’t skimp on safety. 

Bike lights have evolved a lot in recent years with the increase of affordable high-powered LED lighting.  Some models even have rechargeable options.  Beyond the rechargeable battery life, the light’s lumen rating is also extremely important.  The safest riders recommend lights with, at minimum, 500 lumens and above, with many riding with 1,000+ lumen headlamps.  Many also find that blinking red taillights provide the most visibility to oncoming vehicles. 

Helmets and Traumatic Brain Injuries

We should all do what we can to make ourselves more visible on the road – from using high powered lights and wearing reflective clothing.  However, cycling is a dangerous activity the unfortunate reality is that bike riders face a higher risk for catastrophic injuries.  Common catastrophic cycling injuries include:

  • -Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis
  • -Traumatic brain injuries, including concussions
  • -Back injuries
  • -Broken or fractured bones
  • -“Road Rash;” 
  • -Death.

With head injuries being the leading cause of death for cyclists, the single most important piece of safety equipment any cyclist has is their helmet.  While section 662.105 of The Texas Government Code only requires that cyclists under 18 wear helmets, all prudent riders wear helmets when they ride.

Like nice lighting, riders should invest in a good helmet.  According to NHTSA, helmets reduce the risk of traumatic brain injuries by as much as 88 percent!  New helmet technologies like MIPS attempt to reduce TBI's (Traumatic Brain Injuries)even more by preventing rotational force on the brain during an impact. MIPS and other anti-rotational technologies are a great advancement in rider safety and you should look into these style helmets the next time you are in the market for a bike helmet.

When Prevention Fails

Ensuring you are highly visible on the road and having a high-quality bicycle helmet is a great start to safe riding. 

The lawyers at The Button Law Firm have a combined 50 years of avid cycling experience.  Not only do we know the law, we know cycling.  If you are ever involved in a bicycle crash, please see our Overview of the Bike Claim Process and reach out to us at 214-888-2216 to discuss your potential claim. 

 

 

Russell Button
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Texas Trial Lawyer