It’s Bicycle Season. Watch The Roadways

Bicycle accidents in Florida continue to be among the highest in the nation. Read the statistics:

bicylce-accident-infogram

 

 

 

 

Between 2007 and 2011– There were 532 bicycle fatality crashes on Florida roads and highways, and 21,935 people were injured during this time period. The top 10 counties in Florida with the highest number of bicycle fatalities and injuries were: Broward, Miami-Dade, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Orange, Duval, Palm Beach, Pasco, Lee, and Alachua. These counties represented 62 percent of bicycle fatalities and injuries in Florida from 2007 through 2011, see Figure 2-2 from the FDOT CAR System.

florida-bike-accident-chart

In 2011 – Florida bicycle fatality rates were nearly triple the national average, based on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Traffic Safety Facts reports. The bicycle fatality rate in Florida increased from 0.40 fatalities per 100,000 persons in 2010, to 0.63 in 2011. Florida represented six percent of the U.S. population in 2011, but accounted for 11 percent of all U.S. pedestrian fatalities and 17.4 percent of all U.S. bicycle fatalities.

In 2012 – Among all states, cyclist fatalities were highest in California (124), followed by Florida (122), and Texas (56). The proportion of cyclist fatalities among total fatalities in states ranged from a high of 5 percent (Florida) to a low of 0.5 percent (Montana). The highest fatality rate per million population was in Florida (6.32) followed by Louisiana (5.2)

Safety Precautions for Cyclists

Because of lack of protection, bicyclists are considered at risk road users in the event of a crash, but there are some things that you can do to help protect yourself:

  • Always wear a properly fitted helmet whenever you go riding. Wearing a helmet is the number one most effective way to prevent head injuries if involved in a bicycle crash.
  • Be visible to drivers. Wear fluorescent or brightly colored clothing during the day, and at dawn and dusk. If riding at night, use a front light and a red reflector or flashing rear light, and use retro-reflective tape or markings on equipment or clothing.
  • When you are on a bicycle you are required to obey the same rules of the road as other vehicle operators, including obeying traffic signs, signals, and lane markings.
  • When cycling in the street, you must ride in the same direction as traffic.
  • Alcohol consumption, either by the driver of a motor vehicle or the cyclist, was reported in more than 37 percent of the traffic crashes that resulted in cyclist fatalities in 2012. In 32 percent of the crashes, either the driver or the cyclist was reported to have a BAC of .08 g/dL or higher. Lower alcohol levels (BAC .01 to .07 g/dL) were reported in 5 percent of the crashes.

Safety Precautions for Drivers

  • When driving your car, remember to share the road with bicyclists. Be courteous—allow at least three feet of clearance when passing a bicyclist on the road
  • Be on the lookout for cyclists before opening a car door or pulling out from a parking space, and yield to cyclists at intersections and as directed by signs and signals.
  • Watch out for cyclists when making turns, either left or right. This is one of the most common ways to hit a cyclist.

Florida Public Health Services

The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, & community efforts. Check their website to learn about bicycle safety, campaigns and education and reports and data.

General Bicycle Safety Links

Campaigns and Education

Reports and Data

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NHTSA Underfunded?

Mark Rosekind, administrator of NHTSA, who took office in late December of 2014, is scheduled to appear as a witness before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade in an upcoming US congressional hearing to answer questions about the Takata safety crisis.

The automobile industry has been hit hard the last couple of years with some of the biggest recalls in U.S. history, from the General Motors ignition switch catastrophe last year to this year’s 34 million auto recall for autos equipped with Takata airbags. NHTSA admitted it has failed to protect American consumers for over 10 years.

Rosekind will comment before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade in a prepared statement that “At NHTSA, we address safety risks every day. In my judgment as a safety professional, NHTSA’s lack of resources is a known risk.”

One fallout from the lack of resources has been allowing automakers to call the shots in past investigations concerning safety defects. Documents on NHTSA’s website related to defect investigations, confirm that the agency would open a defect investigation, then leave a majority of the responsibility to the automaker under investigation. Basically, NHTSA allowed automakers to investigate themselves and turn their findings over to the government—a true recipe for disaster.

Mark Rosekind has said several times since he took office that his agency was “woefully” underfunded and that once he got inside he realized that the situation was more severe than he originally thought. He wants to let the subcommittee know that today’s NHTSA budget, when adjusted for inflation, is 23 times smaller than it was just a decade ago.

NHTSA has used the excuse that they are under-staffed and under-funded and can’t handle the agency’s huge workload to answer questions about why the agency has failed. From all indications, that “excuse” is true.  The NHTSA’s enforcement workforce consists of 90 employees, compared to the Federal Railroad Administration of 678 enforcement workers and the Federal Aviation Administration’s 6,409. The agency says it needs about $90 million to hire almost 400 workers in order to handle their heavy casework load. The agency says it would like to hire a “go-team” of investigators, similar to the FAA’s team to investigate crashes involving airplanes. NHTSA’s investigating team would be on call 24/7 to travel into the field and investigate serious defect reports.

What does this mean to drivers? Drivers are likely to have safer vehicles with higher price tags imposed by automakers to recoup the costs associated with meeting more stringent safety regulations.

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