Understanding the potentially life-shattering power that a serious pedestrian or bicycle-related traffic accident can have on a person could go a long way toward altering the way people perceive traffic safety and its effect on the non-vehicular component of our cityscapes. Because almost every one of us assumes the role of pedestrian at one time or another during our workweek or on the weekend, traffic safety as it pertains to pedestrians and bicyclists should be on everyone’s mind.
While walking is a healthy pastime, many individuals prefer to cover more ground and see a little extra scenery by taking advantage of pedal power. A usually pleasant and beneficial way to exercise — as well as being a decent mode of transportation, of course, depending on the weather – cycling is an eco-friendly activity for many people, young and old. In places like Baltimore City, local government is trying to make streets more “bike-friendly.” But there are always dangers when people and bikes mix with motor vehicle traffic.
As Maryland personal injury lawyers, we keep an eye on the traffic-related injury totals from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2011, the latest year for fatality statistics from the safety agency in Washington, D.C., 102 pedestrians were killed in automobile-related collisions here in Maryland, while “only” five cyclists died in traffic crashes. If we compare this to the total number of deaths on our state’s highways and city streets, bicycle fatalities made up less than one percent of the total figure.
While this might be encouraging from a statistical standpoint, due to the apparent three-year decline in biking deaths, there were still five individuals who lost their lives in cycling-related traffic wrecks. What the fatality stats do not indicate are the severity of injuries suffered by those who survived a near-fatal collision while riding their bicycle. Don’t fool yourself, injuries resulting from a passenger car or commercial truck striking a rider or person on foot can be extensive. Even a single-bike crash can injure a person more than some people would expect.
Consider an interview with University of Maryland Terrapins basketball player Seth Allen, who related a bad experience while riding a 10-speed bicycle about five years ago. That accident reportedly almost ended the athlete’s career before it really got off the ground. According to the news article, Allen was involved in what sounds like a rather painful bicycle crash accident back in 2007 when he hit a rough portion of roadway, lost control of his bike and fell to the ground in a pile of mangled metal bicycle parts.
Allen described the events leading up to his falling off the bike by explaining that his arm had become tangled in the handlebars as they turned quickly, apparently snapping his arm, breaking at the elbow and requiring very involved surgery to return some mobility. Based on the interview, Allen told the reporter that the doctors basically had to piece his arm back together like “a jigsaw puzzle.”
The break and associated injuries were so extensive that it required two plates held with 24 screws to put Allen’s arm back into some semblance of order. At the time, doctors did not hold much hope for Allen ever having full use of his arm. However, the player was able to beat the odds and recovered to a remarkable extent thanks, in part, to the extremely painful and unrelenting physical therapy that was necessary to avoid Allen developing scar tissue that might cause him future problems with using his arm. Fortunately for this young man, the end of the story was a happy one, and Allen has been able to help the Terrapins end a rather strong season.
Maryland guard Seth Allen was almost forced to quit basketball after bike crash, NBCSports.com, February 27, 2013