According to recent studies by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Florida is the most dangerous state for bicyclists. Although 2021 saw a five percent increase in cycling deaths nationwide, Florida outpaced other states, recording 183 bicycle-related fatalities last year alone.
Preliminary data from the FLHSMV for the first half of 2022 shows 3,102 bicycle accidents and 79 bicycle-related fatalities. Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, Orlando, and Miami metro areas were listed as having the highest number of bicycle-related traffic accidents, while Lee County recorded some of the highest bicyclist deaths in the state.
Why is Florida dangerous for bicyclists?
The bike and walk alliance People Powered Movement lists four reasons why accidents involving bicyclists happen more often in Florida than anywhere else in the United States.
- Congested roads: Florida has some of the busiest and most traffic-ridden streets in the nation. As cars become more concentrated in one area, the likelihood of a bicyclist being involved in an accident increases.
- Aggressive driving: Florida not only leads the nation in cycling deaths but also in the number of road rage cases reported each year. Commute times have continued to increase year after year, causing more drivers to experience road rage on congested streets. These frustrated drivers are more likely to drive aggressively, which leads to dangerous situations for cyclists.
- Aging population: Florida is a popular place to retire, which makes the average age of the state’s drivers higher than in other parts of the nation. As individuals age, their ability to drive safely may become impaired. Many older drivers experience vision loss, slowing of reflexes, and other challenges.
- Distracted driving: Texting while driving is the leading cause of traffic accidents in Florida, despite laws against the practice. Drivers who are increasingly distracted by their cell phones lose the ability to keep others safe while sharing the road, particularly those on bicycles.
In addition, bicyclists are more likely to be involved in an accident in areas like Miami-Dade where roads were constructed to accommodate high-speed traffic.
How can bicyclists stay safe?
Harvard’s School of Public Health has published a list of “urban cycling safety tips” which include:
- Leaving a three-foot space between the bicycle and any parked cars: Bicyclists should not assume parked cars are empty. They should always leave enough space between them and a vehicle so that if an individual opens a car door, they will not be impacted.
- Following the rules of the road: In terms of traffic law, bicycles are considered vehicles. Therefore, bicyclists must follow all road rules that apply to other vehicles such as cars. This includes riding in the same direction as traffic, following traffic signs and lights, staying off sidewalks, and yielding to pedestrians. In the absence of any traffic signals, bicyclists must also yield to pedestrians.
- Avoiding blind spots: Bicyclists should be proactive in staying within a driver’s field of sight, being aware that larger vehicles such as trucks have larger blind spots, particularly on their right side. Bicyclists should never try to overtake large vehicles.
- Using protective gear: A bicyclist’s first line of defense is being equipped with the right protective and preventative gear. Bicyclists should always wear a correctly fitted helmet, and use lights, reflectors, and bright clothing to be better seen by drivers. By law, Florida requires all bicycles to be fitted with a white-light lamp on the front and a reflector on the rear between sunset and sunrise.
Contact a Bicycle Accident Attorney
Even with protective gear, bicyclists are uniquely vulnerable to accidents involving a motor vehicle. Common injuries resulting from a bicycling accident include broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, concussions, strains, sprains, dislocations, and more. Injuries like these may require hospitalization, and time spent away from work, which can result in hefty medical bills and loss of income. An individual will need an experienced bicycle accident attorney to fight for the compensation they deserve. The attorneys of Panter, Panter, and Sampedro have the experience and dedication to win a bicycle accident case. Speak to an attorney today at (305) 662-6178.