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What is Behind the Recent Increase in Cycling Accidents and Fatalities?

Fatal accidents involving cyclists and motor vehicles increased by 6.3 percent in 2018. This follows the upward trend in cyclist fatalities over the past several years, and it means that more cyclists died on the road in 2018 than in any prior year dating back to 1990. While cycling and outdoor publications have been reporting on the issue for a while, the news has now hit mainstream media as well, and legislators in some jurisdictions are finally beginning to pay attention.

But, in order to address the issue of cyclists facing life-threatening risks on the roads, it is first necessary to understand what factors (or factors) are to blame. Is it simply the fact that more people are turning to cycle as a means of transportation and a way to get fit? Or, are dangerous drivers primarily responsible?

NHTSA: Increase in Cyclist Fatalities is Primarily Due to Driver Negligence

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driver negligence is a leading cause of serious and fatal cycling accidents. Just as distracted driving is to blame for a significant portion of vehicle-on-vehicle collisions, it is a factor in a significant percentage of cycling accidents as swell. While texting is among the most dangerous driving distractions due to the amount of time that it takes drivers’ eyes off of the road and hands off of the wheel, even momentary distractions can cause drivers to put cyclists in harm’s way. This includes distractions such as:

  • Reading GPS directions
  • Skipping songs and changing playlists
  • Talking to passengers
  • Looking at signs and scenery
  • Dialing phone numbers
  • Taking photos
  • Checking social media updates

Beyond distractions, various other driving mistakes are potentially to blame as well. Additional driver-related factors that can cause serious and fatal vehicle-on-bicycle accidents to include:

  • Failing to look for cyclists before turning or merging (including failure to check blind spots, particularly for drivers of large pickup trucks and SUVs)
  • Following or attempting to pass cyclists too closely
  • Following other vehicles too closely (which can limit the visibility of cyclists on the road ahead)
  • Speeding in neighborhoods, in urban areas such as downtown Denver and on mountain roads
  • Failing to observe cyclists’ rights on the road

Cyclists Need to Do Their Part, Too

While cyclists will often be helpless to protect themselves from dangerous drivers, there are several steps that cyclists can take to help improve safety for themselves and their fellow riders. This includes things like observing the rules of the road and making yourself as visible as possible, and it also includes holding negligent drivers accountable for their mistakes. Data from cyclist insurance claims help to inform decisions about safety legislation, and drivers who are held accountable are almost certain to drive more safely in the future.

Speak With a Denver Personal Injury Attorney for Free

If you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a cycling accident in Denver, the personal injury attorneys at Levine Law can help you seek just compensation. To discuss your case in a free and confidential consultation, please call 303-333-8000 or tell us how to reach you online today.

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