Florida Now Leads the US For Bicycle Fatalities

cyclist on the road

The year-round warm weather and sunshine in Southwest Florida provide the perfect climate for outdoor activities. Riding a bicycle is one of the most popular ways to stay active and enjoy the outdoors.

Recent Data on Bicycle Collisions in Florida

Unfortunately, the number of fatal bicycle accidents in Florida has skyrocketed in the last ten years. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 2010-2019, Florida saw a 45% increase in fatal accidents involving bicycles. This figure climbed even higher when Covid-related lockdowns saw a marked increase in bicycle purchases.

Florida ranks number one in the US for bicyclist fatalities per capita. Also, Florida ranks as the third most dangerous state to ride a bicycle. In Florida, most bicycle deaths occurred in the 50-59 age range, according to the US Department of Transportation.

The most reported factors leading to bicycle fatalities caused by are:

  • Failure to yield the right of way – 38%
  • Not visible (dark clothing, no lighting, etc.) -10%
  • Failure to obey traffic signs or signals – 8%
  • Making an improper turn -8%

How to Reduce Collisions and Save Lives

Drivers and bicyclists must both do their part to ensure that our roadways are safe for everyone. Drivers need to eliminate distractions and watch for bike riders closely. They also need to give a minimum of three feet of space when passing a bicyclist.

Bicycle riders need to protect themselves by always wearing a helmet and wearing brightly colored, reflective clothing to maximize visibility on the roads. They also should outfit their bike with lights and reflectors as well.

According to a recent survey taken by AAA of Florida bicyclists:

  • 36% do not wear a helmet while riding
  • 56% ride with traffic (the proper way), and 26% ride against traffic
  • 74% of those who ride against traffic do so because they prefer to see approaching vehicles

It is extremely important that bicyclists ride “with traffic,” as many accidents occur when the bicycle rider is riding against the flow of traffic. This is dangerous because drivers do not always check for wrong-way traffic before entering an intersection or leaving a parking lot. We often see from accident reports that drivers just “don’t see” bicyclists on the road before they collide with them.

Current Bicycle Laws in Southwest Florida

Riders in Southwest Florida need to know and adhere to the laws regarding bicycle operation on roadways.

Current laws require bicyclists to adhere to the following:

  • Motorists are required to give at least three feet of space when passing a bicyclist
  • Bicyclists under the age of 16 must wear a helmet
  • Bicyclists should ride on the right side of the road, in a bicycle lane, if applicable
  • Bicycles operating in the dark should have a light on the front and back of their bike
  • Bicycles may operate on sidewalks, but pedestrians have the right of way

Riding a bike should be a safe and fun alternative to driving a car. However, you must stay alert and aware of your surroundings. This applies to both drivers and bicycle riders who must share the roads. A bicycle accident can happen in a split second, and the consequences can be life-altering. All parties must do everything they can to make sure that the roads are safe for all of us.

If you’ve been involved in a bicycle collision, contact our office today at (239) 603-6913 to schedule a consultation with our bicycle accident attorney.

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