According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 48,000 people suffered injuries from bike accidents in 2013. Furthermore, 743 people died from bicycle accidents during the same year. These numbers are largely unchanged since 2001 when 45,000 biking injuries occurred and 732 people died in riding accidents. Given that biking is a popular means of exercise and transportation amongst people in Orange County, what can they do to make it safer?
The NHTSA has a list of 10 rules that bikers should follow to reduce their chances of getting injured while riding. Most of these rules are simple and logical, and any experienced rider should already abide by them. However, it never hurts to continually review these kinds of safety suggestions.
Helmet use is first on the NHTSA's safety list; bicyclists should always wear a helmet. They can reduce head injuries by up to 85 percent, which can mean the difference between a minor bump on the head and brain damage. Another safety step is for riders to be sure that their bikes are properly adjusted so that riders can control their vehicles. This also goes along with ensuring that the bicycle, and especially the brakes and wheels, are in good working order. Furthermore, bicyclists should wear bright, visible clothing and avoid riding at night, if possible.
Just like operating any vehicle, the NHTSA cautions bikers to always stay alert while riding and to pay attention for anything dangerous in the bicycle's path. When it comes to riding a bike near motor vehicles, riders should always travel in the same direction as the automobiles and they should ride in a straight and consistent path. Likewise, bikers must always check for traffic in the area and learn to obey all traffic laws.
In addition to using these common sense rules, riders should know that when they are on the street with motor vehicles, they are subject to the same traffic laws as the other vehicles. However, drivers in motor vehicles have a responsibility to watch out for bikers and to help keep them safe. A negligent driver can be just as dangerous to a biker as faulty equipment or obstacles in the biker's riding path.
Source: NHTSA.gov, "10 Smart Routes to Bicycle Safety," Accessed on Aug. 12, 2015