The Toll Of Bicycle Accidents

The Texas Department of Transportation and a nonprofit organization stepped up efforts to educate motorists and bicyclists in the wake of a tragic accident near Amarillo. Two bicyclists riding on a popular bicycling road were killed when a motorist struck them from behind. The driver claimed he was blinded by sunlight.

Share the Road! is a nonprofit that was created in 2010 for raising safety awareness for pedestrians. A spokesman for the organization stated that any driver on the frontage road where the accident occurred ought to be aware that bicycles use the road heavily and be on the lookout for them. Together with TxDOT, Share the Road! installed a sign near the accident location to remind drivers to be watchful of bicyclists.

Children are frequent victims

Bicycles do poorly in collisions with motor vehicles, and according to the Children's Safety Network, children and youth are especially vulnerable. In one recent year, persons aged five to 20 constituted 44 percent of those injured in bicycle accidents and 23.4 percent of those killed.

The rate of nonfatal accidents in this age group was 462.17 per million, contrasting with an overall rate for all ages of 153.3 per million. For fatal accidents, the rate for ages 5 to 20 was 4.37 per million; for all ages, it was 2.64.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention speculate that head injuries are the leading cause of fatalities among young people under age 20. Three-quarters of fatal traumatic brain injuries happened in collisions with motor vehicles.

Bicycle accidents take an economic toll, too. The CSN reports that from 1999 through 2002, the average yearly cost of bicycle deaths among children age birth to 19 years was $1.03 billion. The yearly cost of nonfatal accidents for the same period in this age group was $3.6 billion.

Improving the odds for bicyclists

Safe Kids USA stresses proper use of bicycle helmets. Bicycle riders who do not wear helmets are 14 times more likely to be in a fatal accident than riders who wear helmets.

Helmet use declines for children age 10 to 14, who are at greatest risk of traumatic brain injury. When children wear helmets tilted back instead of level and centered on their heads, their risk of head injury rises by 52 percent or more, according to a study reported by Safe Kids USA.

Motorist behavior can also impact bicycle safety. In visits to high schools, Share the Road! educated students about distracted driving, discouraging cellphone use by drivers. The organization is encouraging further efforts by the city of Amarillo and Texas counties to add staff whose focus is bicycle and pedestrian safety.

Anyone injured in a bicycle accident will benefit from working with a personal injury attorney to potentially recover expenses. Negligent parties can be required to compensate accident victims for pain and suffering and loss of income, as well as medical costs.