While the overall number of fatalities in traffic accidents dropped to record levels last year, the number of people killed in bicycle accidents increased. According to statistics by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2011, there was an increase of 8.7% in bicycle accident fatalities.
Investigations into this troubling increase are likely to begin soon. However, the Governors Highway Safety Association has already thrown in its 2 cents, saying that this increase is likely due to the increasing number of bicyclists on our roads.
To some extent, these higher fatality rates can be blamed on an increased bicyclist population. However, there are other factors that can be blamed for this fatality toll. For instance, last year’s accident statistics also indicate that there was an increase in the number of people killed in distracted driving-related accidents.
An increase in the number of motorists on our roads, who are doing everything from talking on a cell phone, texting, and updating Facebook statuses, to making restaurant reservations on the Internet, has meant a very dangerous environment for bicyclists. Bicyclists are the most vulnerable persons on the road, with little protection in the event of an accident. It only stands to reason, therefore, that these people, who are already very easy to miss because of the narrow frame of their bicycle, are at an even greater risk when they are sharing the roads with distracted motorists.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration needs to immediately investigate this increase in bicycle accident fatalities, with a special focus on distracted driving. It’s a little simplistic to blame an increase in bicycle accident fatalities solely on a high bicycling population, especially when we have case studies from other countries that clearly show that an increase in bicyclist numbers actually keeps bicyclists safe. Learn more at: www.zanerhardenlaw.com.