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Steps motorists and bicyclists can take to prevent fatal bicycle accidents

Increasingly, in major metropolitan areas across the country, riding a bike isn't just an activity for children. Today, a growing number of adults are ditching their cars in favor of two-wheeled self-powered transportation. San Diego area drivers are likely aware of this trend as they daily whiz past bicyclists peddling down the street their way to work or school.

While an excellent form of both exercise and alternative transportation, bicycling can also be dangerous and, information from the Governors Highway Safety Association shows that from 2010 to 2012, there was a 16 percent increase in the number of fatal bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles.

During this same two-year period, with a total of 338 deaths, California led the nation in bicycle accident fatalities. In response, the state has focused on educating both motorists and bicyclists about how to safely share the road. First and foremost, both motorists and bicyclists are reminded to obey all traffic rules.

For motorists, this is especially important when encountering a bicyclist at an intersection as, during 2012, the GHSA reports that 37 percent of fatal bicycle accidents occurred at intersections. Motorists are also reminded to slow down when encountering a bicyclist and, while passing, to provide a bicyclist with ample room.

For bicyclists, the risk of being involved in a motor vehicle and bicycle accident can be reduced by biking in designated bike lanes, religiously utilizing hand signals and wearing brightly colored and/or reflective clothing. Additionally, in 2012, 28 percent of bicyclists age 16 and older who were killed had a blood alcohol concentration at or above the 0.08 limit. Also for this same year, 65 percent of the bicyclists who died were not wearing bike helmets.

San Diego area residents who have been injured in a bicycle accident or who have had a loved one injured or killed in a bicycle accident in which a motorist’s negligence played a role may choose to discuss their case with an attorney.

Source: Governors Highway Safety Association, "Bicyclists Safety," Dr. Allan Williams, 2014

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