Articles Posted in Bicycle Safety

Just as learning how to ride a bike is one of the most memorable milestones in any child’s life, it is also seen as a parental rite of passage. And while one of the most important aspects of teaching a child to ride a bike is imparting the importance of bicycle safety, some accidents cannot be avoided.bicycle

In fact, Maryland bicycle accidents injure, on average, about 67,000 riders per year and result in over 700 fatalities annually. Studies have shown that child riders account for a significant number of both the fatal and the non-fatal bicycle accidents. Most of these accidents occur close to the child’s home, often on their own street.

Motorists have a duty to avoid causing a bicycle accident. This includes following all traffic laws, paying attention to the road in front of them, and yielding to bicyclists when appropriate. When a motorist causes a bicycle accident, they may be held liable for any injuries that occur as a result of their negligence.

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Teaching a child to ride a bike can be a rewarding experience for both the child and the adult. However, bicycle safety is a critical component of learning to ride a bike and should never be overlooked. Not only is it important to teach children always wear a helmet, but also to follow the rules of the road and to always be aware of drivers that may not be paying attention.

Child Bike SafetyAccording to a recent news report based on a study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy, Maryland bicycle accidents involving children may be more common than most people believe. Evidently, nationwide there are there are about 608 bicycle-related injuries per day, which comes out to about 25 accidents per hour.

Of course, most of these accidents are minor. In fact, the top reported injury types were bruises, scrapes, and cuts. However, a very significant 11% of all child bicycle accidents resulted in a traumatic brain injury. Unsurprisingly, when a motor vehicle is involved in the accident, the chance of the child suffering a traumatic brain injury greatly increases.

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The death of a loved one is tragic. In Maryland motor vehicle crashes, the party at fault for the crash should be held responsible for their actions. The wrongful death statute in Maryland allows certain family members to recover compensation after the family members’ death. The purpose of the statute is “to compensate the families of the decedents, as opposed to the estates of the decedents.” Therefore, a wrongful death claim is a separate claim that can be brought by the decedent’s family.

Old-School BicycleThe law allows for certain beneficiaries to file a Maryland wrongful death lawsuit. Primary beneficiaries are defined as the spouses, parents, or children of the deceased person. If no primary beneficiaries exist, Maryland law permits secondary beneficiaries to pursue a claim. A secondary plaintiff is any other person related to the deceased person by blood or marriage who was wholly dependent on the decedent.

In order to prove liability, a plaintiff must show that the defendant’s wrongful act resulted in their loved one’s death. Under the statute, a wrongful act is an “act, neglect, or default including a felonious act which would have entitled the injured party to maintain an action and recover damages” if the person had not died. Plaintiffs may recover damages for not only pecuniary losses but also pain and suffering, loss of companionship, parental care, guidance, and more.

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In August, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a preliminary report of an investigation into a motor vehicle accident that killed five bicyclists and injured four others. According to the report, nine cyclists in Michigan were riding in a four-foot-wide roadway shoulder when a pickup truck veered off the road and plowed into them from behind. In addition to the report, local news organizations have reported that the driver of the pickup truck is being charged with both second-degree murder and operating a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating pain medications and muscle relaxants.

CyclistThe NTSB is a federal agency charged with investigating rail, air, and automobile crashes. According to a recent article, the agency chose to investigate the bicycling accident, due to an uptick in cycling on public roadways. The article also states that in 2013, over 900 bicyclists were killed in cycling accidents, and nearly 500,000 were treated for injuries in hospital emergency rooms. The NTSB last studied crashes involving cyclists in the early 1970s.

Bicycling Accidents on Maryland Roads

In Maryland, motor vehicle drivers owe bicyclists and pedestrians a duty of care while driving. This means that they must drive as a reasonable driver would under the same or similar circumstances. A failure to take such care is called negligence. Drivers who commit negligence may be liable for damages to injured bicyclists, pedestrians, and other drivers and their passengers.

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Earlier last month in Dallas, Texas, a 26-year-old bicyclist was seriously injured after she was struck and knocked off her bicycle by a drunk driver. According to one local news source, the bicyclist spoke to reporters after the accident, telling them that the key to avoiding accidents like the one that seriously injured her is driver education.

bike-wheel-1539723Evidently, the bicyclist had stopped at an intersection and was waiting for traffic to clear before crossing. However, once she started to cross the intersection, a vehicle approached. The vehicle entered the intersection and didn’t slow down until it hit her, knocking her off her bike and seriously injuring her. Thankfully, the woman was wearing a helmet. However, she still suffered serious injuries, including a concussion and neck injuries. She is expected to make a full recovery over the next several weeks.

The driver who struck the bicyclist was arrested and charged with driving under the influence and intoxication assault.

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Earlier this month, researchers from the University of Arizona at Tucson released a study they conducted regarding helmet use and its effects on bicycle injuries. As the reader may expect, helmets do prevent injury if they are worn by a rider involved in an accident. However, this study looked a bit deeper.

two-bikers-1436570The idea of the study was to determine if wearing a helmet somehow helped those who did suffer a traumatic brain injury. In other words, it is well known that a helmet can reduce the chance of getting severely injured in a bicycle accident, but of those who are severely injured, did the group of those who were wearing helmets fare any better than those who were not?

The Study

The study looked at 6,267 bicycle accidents that resulted in a traumatic brain injury. Of those, roughly 25% of the riders were wearing their helmets. The results of the study indicated that of those who were involved in a bicycle accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury, those wearing a helmet at the time were 58% less likely to sustain a “serious” brain injury, and 59% less likely to die as a result of their brain injury.

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Earlier this month in Vermont, a doctor was struck by an allegedly drunk driver as he was enjoying an afternoon bike ride before dinner. According to one local Vermont news report, the man and his wife were preparing to have guests over for dinner, and, while his wife was preparing dinner, the man left to go on a bike ride on his regular route. Sadly, he never returned home.

bike-lane-1443943-mEvidently, the man was riding his bike south on Greenbush Road in Ferrisburgh when a 2013 Chevy Cruze struck him from behind. The woman stopped and remained on the scene until police showed up.

After police arrived and began their investigation, it was discovered that the woman driving the Chevy Cruze was allegedly intoxicated. Specifically, the officers administered a blood-alcohol test and found that her blood-alcohol content (BAC) was .123. The legal limit for BAC in both Vermont and Maryland is .08. She was arrested on suspicion of DUI and released a short time later.

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It has been a long winter, and most of us are ready to shed our winter jackets and parkas in favor of shorts and T-shirts. Along with the new clothes, many of us will also opt for new modes of transportation, opting for bikes and motorcycles instead of cars, trucks, and busses. However, as Marylanders from across the state begin to hop on their bikes, the issue of bicycle safety should be in the front of everyone’s minds.

gears-1428393-mThe State of Maryland Department of Transportation has a website dedicated to bicycle safety. It goes over some of the things that all cyclists and motorists should keep in mind when riding or driving on Maryland roads.

For motorists:

  • Expect bicycles to be on the road and when you see one, maintain a safe distance;
  • When passing a bicyclist, leave a three-foot distance between the car and the cyclist;
  • Be extra careful when backing out of driveways;
  • When merging with a bicycle, yield as you would to another motorist; and
  • Always be sure to stay alert, keep your attention on the road, and use your signals.

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Earlier last month in North Baltimore, an accident between a bike and a Subaru left one man dead. According to a report by one local news source, the accident occurred around the 5700 block of Roland Avenue, around 2:45 in the afternoon.

bicycle-symbol-1383407-mEvidently, when police responded to report of a bicycle accident, they found the 41-year-old victim but no other driver. It wasn’t until a little bit later that the driver of the car that had hit the bicyclist returned to the scene of the accident. The victim was transported to Sinai Hospital in critical condition, but he was not able to overcome his injuries. He died a short time later.

As it turns out, the driver of the Subaru was given probation in a 2010 case involving drunk driving. According to court documents, her blood-alcohol level back then was over three times the legal limit.

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Earlier this week in Shelby Township, Michigan, a man was killed as he was riding his bike to work. According to a report by one local news source, the accident occurred at around four in the morning.

shadow-of-the-past-1432188-mEvidently, the bicyclist was on his way to work at a nearby factory when he was hit by a semi-truck. Although there was a sidewalk where the accident occurred, the bicyclist was riding on the road. Police say that the truck driver stopped at the scene of the accident and remained cooperative through the investigation. They do not believe that drugs or alcohol had a role to play in the accident.

Police also told reporters that bicyclists should be using the sidewalks, but often bicyclists ride in the street. This is contradictory to laws in most jurisdictions that require bicyclists to ride on the street and follow posted traffic laws.

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