Being involved in a bicycle accident is a terrifying ordeal for both a cyclist and a driver. While bicycle travel accounts for only one percent of trips on roads, bicyclists are more likely to be seriously harmed or killed in the event of a bicycle-car accident. These injuries can vary based on factors such as road conditions, traffic signals and distracted drivers.
In a state as large as Texas, Forbes & Forbes understands the risks that cyclists and drivers take when embarking on a trip—no matter how long or short the commute may be. We’ve outlined common injuries in bicycle and car accidents with the hope that this can help cyclists and drivers practice safer, more effective techniques of reducing injury risk on the road.
Risk Factors in Bicycle-Car Accidents
From 2007 to 2012, over 12000 bicycle-car accidents occurred across Texas, resulting in 12,132 injuries and nearly 300 fatalities over a five-year period. Like other types of car accidents, collisions between bicycles and cars can be influenced by a number of risk factors that increase the chance of severe (and even fatal) injury if an accident occurs.
These risk factors can include roadway and intersection conditions, weather and lighting, and characteristics of traffic on any given road. Crashes that occur on higher-speed roads (such as highways) appear to yield the most fatalities, while city streets yield the most injuries.
Age appears to be a considerable factor in bicycle-car accidents as well, with over one-quarter (27 percent) of cyclists involved in crashes being under the age of 15, while an additional 25 percent were between 15 and 24.
Types of Injury Sustained in Bicycle-Car Accidents
Regardless of what factors may contribute to a bicycle-car accident, nearly all cyclists involved in a crash will sustain some sort of injury. This is due to the sheer difference in force and weight between a car and a bicycle, as well as the cyclist usually sustaining the majority of the impact with only a helmet and some form of padding for protection.
While the level of injury may vary in type and severity depending on the precautions taken by both the cyclist and the driver, the most common types of injuries sustained in a bicycle-car accident include:
• Head and face injury, including skull fractures, contusions, concussions and intracranial hemorrhage;
• Muscle and skeletal injury, including damage to joints, nerves, muscles, bone fractures, dislocations, sprains and strains;
• Chest and abdominal injury, including rib fracture, pancreatic trauma and lung injury; and
• Skin and other injury, including lacerations, bruises, burns and scarring.
How to Reduce the Risk of Injury in Bicycle-Car Accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a number of simple countermeasures can be taken by cyclists and drivers alike to not only reduce the risk of injury to themselves, but to others on the road as well.
• One of the most important things a cyclist can do to protect themselves is to wear a bicycle helmet. While Texas does not currently have a statewide law mandating the use of bicycle helmets for riders, research has shown that the use of a bicycle helmet can reduce the risk of fatal injury during a crash by over 90 percent.
• Cyclists should familiarize themselves with the rules of the road, which apply to cyclists as much as they do to car drivers. In addition, some laws are specific to cyclists and must be followed not only to ensure safety on the road, but to avoid tickets and fines as well.
• Any avoidable distraction should be limited while operating a bicycle or motor vehicle in order to ensure the safety of other cyclists and/or drivers. This includes (but is not limited to) cell phone usage and listening to music with headphones on.
• Cyclists who choose to, or must, bike at night should ensure that they are using proper lights on their bicycles, as well as wear reflective clothing if allowed. Not only is this a courtesy to other drivers/cyclists, but it is also against the law in Texas to operate a bicycle at night without proper lighting.
Contact an Experienced Texas Bicycle Accident Lawyer
Understanding the rules of the road and taking safety precautions are only two of many steps necessary to minimize the risk of injury in bicycle-car accidents. Unfortunately, the risk for accidental injury can never be completely eliminated, and this can have devastating consequences on the health and wellbeing of both you and your family if you are injured.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle-car accident, you may be entitled to legal compensation from the party responsible for your injuries. For more information on Texas bicycle laws, or to discuss a potential claim with an experienced attorney, contact us today to schedule a free consultation session.