How to prevent bicycle accidents in Wisconsin
People from all walks of life go bicycle riding, whether it’s for leisure, for fun, for sport, or just for getting around. Unfortunately, about 2 percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths annually are bicyclists, with many more being injured. The most serious injuries in bicycle vs. motor vehicle crashes are to the head, but injuries range from road rash to broken bones.
In 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), 777 people on bicycles were killed in crashes with motor vehicles. Although this represents an 8 percent decrease from 848 bicyclist deaths in 2016, bicycle deaths have increased 25 percent since reaching their lowest point in 2010.
According to the FARS’ statistics, “most of the 2017 bicyclist deaths (86 percent) were those ages 20 and older. Deaths among bicyclists younger than 20 have declined 87 percent since 1975, while deaths among bicyclists 20 and older have tripled. In every year since 1975, many more male than female bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor.
How to prevent bicycle accidents in Wisconsin
Both motorcyclists and motor vehicle drivers can take measures to ensure the safety for all who use the roadways. It is both of their responsibility to do so. Here are the steps you can take to prevent a bicycle accident.
Obey all traffic laws. Bicyclists are just as responsible as motor vehicle drivers for following traffic laws. Respond accordingly to traffic lights, stop signs, one-way streets and other traffic laws. Always yield to traffic and use hand signals to show intent.
Ride to the right. Ride to the right of your lane or to the outside lanes on a one-way street.
Light up your presence. Drivers can easily see a white headlight when you are behind them and a red reflector light when they are behind you. Be sure your bicycle is equipped with them as they are most valuable in dim light and poor visibility.
If there is a bicycle lane, use it.Don’t use the vehicle lanes, as traffic is moving much more quickly than you and your bike. In addition, always ride in the same direction that traffic is flowing.
Wear bright reflective clothing. Bright, reflective clothing makes you more visible to drivers.
Use both hands on your handlebars. Don’t carry anything in your hands.Use baskets, bicyclesaddlebags, racks and backpacks to carry items.
Yield to pedestrians. Bicyclists move faster than pedestrians so always yield to them and use a bell to alert them to your presence.
Wear a helmet and make sure your kids do too. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, helmets save lives and reduce the risk of head injury by 85%.
MOTOR VEHICLE DRIVERS
Drive without distractions. Do not text, talk on the phone, eat, put on make-up or use any of your devices while driving. Statistics show that if you are communicating by text while driving a vehicle, you are 23 times more likely to crash. It’s also illegal in Wisconsin to text and drive.
Pass with care. When you’re about to pass a bicycle, assess the situation.When you do pass, pass slowly, allowing as much space as possible between your vehicle and the bicycle. It’s a law in Wisconsin to give bicyclists at least 3 feet of clearance, to avoid sideswiping them.
Watch out when making right turns. It’s difficult to see a bicycle to your right, so take the utmost care when making a turn.
Stay aware for the presence of bike lanes. Whenthere is a bike lane, pay extra attention to the possibility that there may be a bicyclist up ahead and never veer into that lane.
Make sure you understand bicyclist’s hand signals.When a bicyclist holds his arm out to one side or the other, it means he’s turning right or left.
When exiting your vehicle, beware of “dooring” a bicyclist.Before exiting your vehicle, make sure a bicycle isn’t passing you. Your door can seriously injure or kill a cyclist, if you suddenly open it.
No honking. Beeping your horn canstartle a bicyclist and could cause a crash.
Avoid road rage and be patient. Remember, a bicyclist is somebody’s family member. Treat him as if he was one of your own and remain patient.
As you can see, both bicyclists and drivers of motor vehicles can do a lot to prevent a bicycle accident. In Wisconsin, where so many people ride, both cyclist and driver share the responsibility of sharing the road. Please, be safe out there.
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