Bicycle Accident Deaths in California Hit 25-Year High
While bike shares and fitness cycling are soaring in popularity in California, more people died in bicycle accidents between 2016 and 2018 across the state than during any three-year period in the last 25 years. According to a California Healthline report, traffic accidents proved fatal for 455 bicyclists in California between 2016 and 2018 and this is based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The figures translate to about 3.9 bike accident deaths per million people, the highest rate over any three-year period since the mid-1990s before many California cities even built extensive bike networks.
Why The Increase in Fatal Bike Accidents?
While the fatal accident rate was lower nationwide, it was also on the rise. Between 2016 and 2018, 2,516 bicyclists died in traffic accidents. This was the highest three-year death rate since the mid-2000s. What’s causing this uptick in fatal bicycle accidents? Experts say a convergence of factors such as a sustained rise in how much Americans are driving, the prevalence of distracted driving and the proliferation of big trucks and SUVs are causing this increase.
Safety experts say cycling has surged in popularity. At the same time, since the 2008 economic downturn, the economy has recovered and more people are driving. Unemployment is near historic lows, which means more people are commuting to work. So, there is a mix of traffic on the roadways including cars and bikes. While bike-sharing programs are gaining in popularity, so are rideshare vehicles such as Uber and Lyft increasing that type of traffic on our roadways. The more people drive on the street, the higher the probability of a car accident. It’s as simple as that, experts say.
Driver Negligence and Liability Issues
What makes all that worse is the scourge of distracted driving. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) states that “midblock” collisions, wrecks in areas between intersections where speeds are higher, tend to cause greater injury to bicyclists. Often, in these cases, drivers tend to say they did not see the bicyclist they hit. Experts believe drivers who are looking at their phones may often not see a bicyclist in such a situation. Bigger vehicles such as SUVs also have larger blind spots compared to smaller cars making it more difficult for drivers of these vehicles to see cyclists.
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, you may be able to seek compensation from the at-fault parties for damages such as medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, rehabilitation, pain and suffering and emotional distress. An experienced California bicycle accident lawyer will be able to advise injured victims and their families regarding their legal rights and options.