So says the most recent data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Florida’s average annual age-adjusted cyclist mortality rate for 2008 through 2012 was 0.57 per 10,000 – higher than anywhere else in the nation, by far. The next highest was Delaware, which had a rate of 0.38, followed by Louisiana with 0.33 and California with 0.29.
One encouraging piece of information is the fact that there has been a 9.7 percent decrease in the mortality rates in Florida, though this is far less dramatic than what was reported among other states. For example, Vermont saw an 82.5 percent decrease and West Virginia a 70 percent decrease.
Clearly, we should be doing more to drive down bicyclist deaths in Florida.
The CDC further reported that while only 1 percent of all trips taken within the U.S. are by bicycle, cyclists face double the risk of crash-related injury than those in motor vehicles. Just in 2013 alone, more than 900 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles. Further, nearly 500,000 hospital emergency room trips were attributed to bicycle accidents.
Of the 392 billion trips taken across the U.S. in 2013 among all modes of transportation, 4.1 billion were bicycle trips. And of the 33,800 people who died, 630 were bicyclists.
Non-fatal, crash-related injuries to bicyclists has been known to cause a lifetime of losses, from medical expenses to productivity reduction. Nationally, this totals $10 billion a year. While some politicians complain about the cost of implementing “Complete Street” initiatives, they ignore the toll we are already paying.
Over the course of 38 years, the CDC has tracked nearly 30,000 cyclist deaths. There was a high of 955 in 1975 to 630 in 2013. Overall, improvements have been made. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the roads are a great deal safer.
One of the other bits of information to be gleaned from the latest analysis is that while child cycling deaths among minors under the age of 15 are down 92 percent in the U.S., adult cycling deaths are actually up. Collectively, cycling deaths are down 44 percent from 1975 to 2012, but this doesn’t necessarily mean roads are safer.
Instead, what it tells us is American children are riding their bicycles far less. According to the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, nearly half of American children from kindergarten through 8th grade biked or walked to school. By 2009, that figure was just 13 percent.
The lower figure of child bicyclist injuries also tells us more children are wearing helmets when they bike. The average number of children who wore helmets was less than 4 percent in 1991 and now it’s up to more than 12 percent as of 2013.
That’s great news, but we’re still not doing enough here in Florida. In addition to requiring bicycle helmets for all riders, the CDC recommended:
- More comprehensive roadway engineering measures, such as bicycle lanes, to improve rider safety
- Active lighting and rider visibility (i.e., fluorescent clothing, retro-reflective clothing and red rear lights on bicycles)
- Enforcement of laws requiring motorists to keep a certain distance from bicyclists (in Florida, it’s 3 feet)
Among the major risk factors the CDC identified:
- The highest death rates are among adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15 and 29 and adults ages 45 and older
- Non-fatal bicycle injuries are the highest among children and adolescents between the ages of 5 and 14 and young adults between the ages of 15 and 24
- Males are twice as likely to be injured or killed in a bicycle accident than females
- The majority of bicycle accidents occur in urban areas
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident in Palm Beach, we can help.
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.
Bicyclist Deaths Associated with Motor Vehicle Traffic, August 14, 2015, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
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