Florida is fortunate to enjoy pleasant weather almost year-round. Miles of sandy beaches and a warm climate makes the Sunshine State home to a large number of bicyclists. Because cyclists must share the road with motorists, however, they are often at risk of suffering a serious injury. A new study confirms that distracted drivers pose the biggest threat to people on bicycles.
If you have been injured in a cycling accident, don’t hesitate to contact a bicycle accident lawyer about your case. The attorneys at Fetterman & Associates serve clients in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and the surrounding areas.
Pedestrian and Bicyclist Deaths Have Increased
Although motor vehicle collisions as a whole have decreased in recent years, the number of fatal pedestrian and bicycle accidents has actually gone up. According to a study conducted by the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the number of cyclists killed between 2005 and 2010 increased by 30 percent.
Researchers say the proliferation of cell phones has caused distracted driving to become more pervasive, which has in turn led to a spike in pedestrian and cyclist deaths.
According to one of the researchers behind the study, part of the problem is that cell phone use behind the wheel doesn’t carry the same social stigma of driving without a seat belt or failing to put your child in a car seat.
Another study published by AT&T says cell phone use has become so common it has risen to the level of an addiction. In a survey of drivers across the country, 61 percent admitted they have texted while driving.
One in ten motorists said they have video-chatted behind the wheel. The study also revealed that one-third of drivers check their email on the road, and 17 percent say they have taken a selfie while driving.
According to the founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction at the University of Connecticut, constant cell phone use is fundamentally no different from drug abuse or any other form of substance abuse.
When cell phone users check their phones, whether to browse the internet or get a social media notification, the brain releases dopamine, which makes the user experience pleasurable emotions. The more you rely on a cell phone for these “highs,” he says, the more you need to check your phone.
Staying Safe on Your Bicycle
Until people truly understand the risk of distracted driving – and modify their behavior as a result – bicyclists will remain incredibly vulnerable to distracted motorists.
If you ride a bicycle on Florida roads, there are several things you can do to protect yourself:
- Make eye contact with motorists. Whenever possible, make eye contact with an approaching or passing driver. If a driver seems distracted, move away as much as possible or stop completely until the motorist has passed by.
- Keep your distance. Just as you would behind the wheel, make sure there is adequate distance between your bike and the cars around you. Just because you can maneuver more easily than a car doesn’t mean it’s safe to dart in and out of traffic.
- Follow traffic rules. Traffic rules apply to everyone on the road, including cyclists. Use appropriate hand signals when turning and merging. Make sure you stop at lights and stop signs and don’t ride in areas where you’re not supposed to venture.
Cycling is a great way to experience nature and keep fit. If you plan on cycling in Florida, however, it’s important to be vigilant about motorists. It’s not always easy to tell if a driver is distracted, which is why you should always be careful on the road.
Distracted Drivers: Call a Boca Raton Bicycle Accident Lawyer about Your Case
When bicyclists are involved in traffic accidents, they often sustain serious injuries. If you have been injured on a bicycle by a distracted drivers, don’t wait to speak to a lawyer about your case. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and other losses.
Call today to speak to a Boca Raton bicycle accident attorney about the next steps in your case. Stay safe out there, whether you’re behind the wheel or the handlebars.