West Palm Beach Bicycle Accident Highlights Larger Problem

Police suspect road rage played a role in a West Palm Beach collision between a bicyclist and a pickup truck. Authorities say the cyclist was biking home from his job at a local diner when a large pickup truck drove up behind him, began laying on the horn and shouting. bicycleocean

The truck driver then reportedly drove his vehicle into the cyclist, forcing the rider to go tumbling to the concrete curb. The driver then reportedly exited the truck, grabbed the injured victim and threatened to beat him. He was apparently angry at the rider for cycling in the roadway (as he is legally allowed to do). The cyclist told the man he didn’t want to fight, and the truck driver got in his vehicle and left.

However, the incident was captured on a surveillance camera, and a witness was able to jot down the license plate number. Police have since arrested the 28-year-old motorist for aggravated battery.

This bicycle injury highlights a much bigger problem in Florida: We have the highest rate of bicycle accidents and deaths in the state, and part of the reason has to do with misconceptions about how these incidents occur and who is responsible.

(Evidence in this case tends to indicate it was clearly not an accident, though the injured cyclist could potentially still recover damages from the driver’s insurance company, or his own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage policy, as cyclists are covered under these provisions.)

Recently, The News-Press in Fort Myers sought to take on these misconceptions in a series that covered the widespread problem of bicycling injuries and deaths.

The report revealed that last year, 120 people were killed in Florida bicycle accidents. The 2012 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates there were 726 bicyclists killed nationally that year.

While riders account for 2 percent of overall traffic on the roads, they account for 4 percent of all deaths.

For these reasons, the Florida Department of Transportation has ranked vulnerable roadway users (i.e., bicyclists and pedestrians) as a No. 1 priority in the coming years for safety initiatives.

Palm Beach County had 550 reported bicycle crashes in 2014, with six of those being fatal. In Miami, there were 985 crashes and 15 fatalities. In Broward, there were 852 bicycle crashes and nine of those were deadly.

The crash fatality rate per 100,000 population is 0.45 – not far behind Broward’s 0.50 and Miami-Dade’s 0.59.

But here are some of the misconceptions:

  • That snowbirds are to blame
  • That red-light-running bicyclists are to blame
  • That pickup truck drivers are road bullies

Here are the facts:

  • Most likely, the driver who strikes a bicyclist is not in their 80s. The typical at-fault driver in these scenarios is either in their early 20s or mid-40s. Some say immaturity is to blame for the first group, while driver complacency is responsible for the latter.
  • Bicyclists are not usually the at-fault operator in a collision with a car. Reporters found motorists were twice as likely to be the primary cause of a crash, and usually, the issue was the driver failed to yield. Most crashes occurred at angle intersections. Other problems were careless driving and motorists who ran stop signs.
  • Pickup truck drivers. As the recent West Palm Beach case would suggest, the biggest problem is bully pickup drivers. True, there are some. However, analysts reported cars were the No. 1 type of vehicle involved in bicycle accidents – by far. In Southwest Florida, 384 bicycle-car accidents involved a car, while 74 involved a pickup, 72 involved an SUV, 47 involved a van and 16 involved some other type of vehicle.

It’s imperative for cyclists to operate their bikes defensively. But it’s also incumbent on motorists to get educated, use caution and pay attention.

If you have been injured in an accident, contact the Hollander Law Firm at 888-751-7777 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.

Additional Resources:

Florida bike crashes: 7 things that may shock you, March 6, 2015, By Janine Zeitlin, The News-Press

More Blog Entries: Report:

Older Drivers Not Unsafe, New Study to Assess Aging Driver Needs, Feb. 27, 2015, West Palm Beach Bicycle Accident Lawyer Blog