In 2012 alone, over 700 bicyclists were killed in roadway accidents across the country. In South Florida, 1,539 bicyclists and pedestrians were killed between 2003 and 2012. In fact, Florida is considered among the least safe places for pedestrians and bicyclists. It is statistics like these that have led to awareness campaigns in South Florida – as well as calls for changes. For example, each year bicyclists hold an event called “The Ride of Silence” in memory of bicyclists killed or injured in traffic collisions.
A new report by the League of American Bicyclists sheds light on why bicycle accidents and fatalities occur. The report was compiled by examining bicycle accident fatalities reported largely in 2012 by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to the League of American Bicyclists, however, the government needs to do more to gather information about bicycle accidents in Miami and across the country, as the group found that information about these types of collisions was lacking.
According to the League of American Bicyclists report, the most dangerous bicycle accident and the one most likely to lead to fatalities was the rear-end crash. This type of collision accounted for about 40 percent of the total number of fatal bicycle accidents. Bicyclists are also at risk of broadside collisions in Miami and other cities. According to the report, about 10 percent of all fatal bicycle accidents involved this type of crash. A further eight percent of fatal bicycle collisions involved head-on accidents.
The report found that many accidents – about 44% — occurred on city arterial streets while rural arterial streets were the site of 12 percent of fatal crashes. Rural local roads amounted to about 11 percent of total bicycle accidents. On city streets, intersection and intersection accidents were represented about equally, but rural road fatalities were more likely to occur away from intersections. In about 9% of fatal bicycle accidents, bicyclists were traveling on sidewalks rather than on roads. The report also found that bicyclists were wearing helmets in about 57% of fatal bike accidents, although data about helmet use was incomplete.
In terms of causes of bicycle accidents, the report found that many of the things that cause motor vehicle crashes in Miami and other Florida cities are also responsible for fatal bike crashes. About 42% of fatal bicycle accidents studied were caused by negligent driving while 36% involved hit and run crashes and a further 12% involved drunk driving. In about 23% of the accidents, bicyclists were traveling in the wrong direction while 17% of cases involved bicyclists failing to yield.
The report clearly shows that everyone plays a role in preventing bicycle accidents and fatalities. As the authors noted, one of the big problems with bicycle accidents is that relatively little information is gathered about these types of crashes and there is less anger and response to these types of accidents when compared with car crashes. The authors called for more action to prevent collisions in the future.
Biking offers a number of benefits, including good exercise and the opportunity for recreation as well as an eco-friendly way of getting around. Bicycle accidents in Homestead and other Florida communities, however, are a major cause for concern. Many parents, especially worry about these crashes causing child injuries in Homestead or their communities.
There is no doubt that bicycle accidents can be very serious. Each year, bicyclists suffer brain injuries in Homestead and their communities as well as other serious injuries. However, new data shows that accidents are not the only cause of concern. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, recently published a study showing that children sustain ten times as many injuries in the groin and kidneys when biking as adult bikers.
The study was based on emergency room data spanning the years 2002 to 2012 and excluded injuries caused by car collisions. During each year studied, about 4000 patients were admitted with bicycle-related injuries to the genitals or kidneys. Men and boys represented about 61 percent of these injuries. In about 70 percent of these injuries, the injuries resulted from contact with the bike. About half of these injuries occurred due to contact with the top tube of the bicycle, which runs from the handlebars to the seat. Close to 30 percent of all the injuries studies were caused by falls from the bike or other incidents. Researchers stated that they didn’t make any safety recommendations based on the data, saying that more research was needed first.
Other safety experts and studies have also concluded that bicycle collisions are not the only causes of bicycle-related injury in Hollywood and Florida. Other causes of bicycle injury can include:
•Skin irritation or lacerations caused by defective bicycle parts of equipment
•Clothing getting caught in bicycle chains
•Injuries caused by excessive time on the bicycle
•Injuries caused by uneven ground
•Falls from a bicycle
Injuries from these types of incidents may not be as dramatic as the injuries caused by a collision with a car, but they can still be serious. Injuries from these types of situations can cause lacerations, fractures, and other potentially serious injuries. They have also led some to recommend everything from airbags on handlebars to differently designed top tubes to athletic cups for riders. So far, most experts agree that the most important things to keep in mind when preventing bicycle injuries is to wear a helmet, improve bicycle skills, and to follow the rules of the road. Injuries can also be prevented by:
•Wearing clothing that will not get caught in the chains
•Choosing a bicycle that is a good fit for the rider
•Keeping a bicycle in good shape
•Taking the bike trails or paths that are appropriate for the biker’s skill level
•Staying visible on the road and using a light to illuminate paths or the road when riding at night
If your child were in a bicycle accident in Homestead or your community, would they be protected by a helmet? Although many safety experts and pediatricians agree that helmets are vital in helping prevent potentially deadly head injuries, a new study suggests that only about 11 percent of children wear helmets.
The study, presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in Florida this year, examined children who were treated for injuries in Los Angeles County following bicycle accidents. The study found that children over the age of 12 and children who belonged to a minority group or low income bracket were more likely to not be wearing a bicycle helmet. The study’s authors believe that other communities may also have a similarly low instance of helmet use, so parents in Homestead and other Florida communities may want to take notice.
According to study author Veronica F. Sullins, more needs to be done to target at-risk children to help prevent head injuries and bicycle accidents. Currently, Sullins notes, teens and children have the highest rates of unintentional injury of all age groups, so more effort is needed to address the problem.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about 33 million American children ride bicycles and are on their bikes for a combines 10 billion hours annually – that is a lot of time for a serious injury to occur. According to the CDC, there are about 400 bicycle-related fatal brain injuries each year and about 150 000 brain injuries that require a visit to the emergency room.
According to safety experts, there are a few things that parents can do to help prevent bicycle crashes and related child injuries in Homestead and other communities:
•Buy a helmet that children will enjoy wearing. Ask children for their input when shopping for a helmet and consider buying more than one helmet if budget allows.
•Review bicycle safety rules often; simply wearing a helmet is not enough.
•Insist that children wear helmets when riding a bike or scooter, skateboard, or in-line skates. Refuse to allow children to take part in these activities without a helmet.
•Set a good example by wearing a helmet when bicycling. Consider showing children images of their favorite celebrities wearing helmets when bicycling – children and teens may be more likely to follow suit if they see someone they admire wearing a helmet.
If you are a bicyclist, you may have noticed that a number of interesting safety innovations have been created in recent years to reduce your risk of injury if you are in a bicycle accident in Hollywood or another community. For example, invisible helmets promise to provide a higher standard of protection against injuries.
Researchers at Foothills Medical Centre are suggesting that a new innovation is needed: body armor for cyclists. While head injuries in Hollywood and other cities are a big concern for Florida bicyclists, researchers note that the chest area and other areas of the body also need protection. The researchers looked at the injuries suffered by mountain bikers and bikers on city streets. About 258 severely injured bicyclists were studied and the results were published in the Canadian Journal of Surgery.
According to the study, the main injury to bicyclists remains head injury and highlights the importance of helmets. However, about half of the injuries examined were to the abdomen or chest area. For street cyclists, especially, body armor would help prevent many serious injuries and fatalities, according to researchers. Street cyclists were more likely to be severely injured and more likely to sustain fatal injuries, according to the study, in part because street cyclists were more likely to be struck by a car while mountain bikers were more likely to sustain their injuries from a fall. Mountain bikers were more likely to sustain spinal cord injuries.
Researchers also found that:
•The average age of injured mountain bikers is 28 while the average age of street bikers is 43
•About 86.4% of the injured patients studied were male
•Most injuries took place in the summer
Many bicycle shops already carry not only a range of helmets but also protective vests for bicyclists. These vests may take a little more time to find (they are usually only available in specialty shops) but they may be worth it to prevent injuries. The vests have a mix of hard-shell and padding protection.
The researchers did not mention in their study whether the vests could help protect against spinal cord injury, but the padding and protection cannot hurt. It can be especially important for bicyclists in city environments, since a car colliding with a cyclist is likely to strike the bicyclist’s abdomen area and extremities.
According to a new study out of the University at Buffalo, lighting conditions, alcohol, and speed are key contributors to serve injuries in bicycle accidents. According to the researchers, paved shoulders and bike lanes alone do not help cyclists avoid injuries (although these options can help reduce the number of bicycle injuries).
According to the researchers, the severity of injuries in bicycle accidents involving cars was almost the same whether the accident took place on a bike lane or a shared street. According to the researchers, the three things that did make a difference in the seriousness of injuries were:
•Alcohol. Alcohol use by the vehicle motorists or the cyclist increased the severity of injury.
•Lighting. Cyclists who rode in the darkness had an increased risk of severe injuries, even when they rode in an area with streetlights and wore reflective clothing or had bicycle lights.
•Speed. Cyclists riding at or above the posted speed limit had a higher instance of severe injuries when compared with cyclists who took a more leisurely pace.
It is important to do everything possible to reduce bicycle accidents in Homestead and other communities. These types of accidents all too often affect children and can lead to devastating injury, including head injuries, spinal cord injuries, and even fatalities. A cyclist simply has no chance against a larger vehicle.
The NHTSA reports that only 1% of traffic trips across the country are made by bicycle, but cyclists account for 2% of traffic deaths. Florida, unfortunately, has a reputation for being one of the states with a higher instance of pedestrian accidents and bicycle accidents.
There are many things that can be done to help prevent bicycle accidents and resulting injuries – including head injuries – in Homestead and across the state:
1) Teach children bicycle safety rules early. Children who learn the rules of the road early know how to ride safely and how to avoid danger. While the University of Buffalo study suggests that there is no difference in the severity of injuries between streets and bicycle lanes, children should be encouraged to ride in safer areas – such as bike paths that are not shared with cars and quieter streets. Choosing where your children ride can still help reduce their risk of an accident.
2) Always follow traffic and safety rules. Obey the posted speed limit, stop signs, and traffic lights. Even though you can slip in between cars and coast through a light that does not mean you should. While bicycles are more flexible, obeying the same rules as other vehicles can greatly reduce your risk of an accident.
3) Always wear a helmet when cycling. Many head injuries in Homestead and other communities can be prevented with a proper helmet. In addition to wearing a helmet, make sure you wear reflective clothing and ensure that your bicycle is equipped with reflective tape and lights so that you are visible.
4) Stay alert – treat cycling with the same seriousness as driving a car. Do not hop on your bicycle if you are tired, ill, distracted, or have been drinking. You need the same alertness to cycle as you need to operate a car. Distraction, inebriation, and fatigue can affect your motor skills and can lead you to make poor decisions that lead to an accident.
Bicycle accidents in Fort Lauderdale and across Florida are a major concern for parents in the summer. While children relish the freedom of warm summer afternoons for bicycle rides, parents know that bikes can lead to head injuries and Fort Lauderdale hospital stays. Before summer starts, it is a good idea to review bicycle safety with your children. You can do this by:
1) Visiting a bicycle shop to review safety gear. A helmet can reduce the risk of a head injury significantly if your child is in a traffic accident in Fort Lauderdale or another community. Lights and reflective stickers on the bicycle as well as reflective clothing can make your child more visible, making a collision less likely. Your child may be more enthusiastic about safety gear if it is new and if they get to choose. Browsing the options can also help teach your child about the importance of safety.
2) Checking your child’s bicycle. Is the bicycle in good condition and still appropriate for your child’s height? If not, it may be time to replace or repair the bike.
3) Talking with your child about bicycle safety. It is important to review safety issues with your child often, so that they understand the importance of bicycling safely. Make sure your child knows what to do to avoid a bicycle accident in Fort Lauderdale or another community. Review traffic rules, bicycle rules, and best practices.
4) Taking a bicycle ride with your children. This allows you to see whether your children have any bad habits that can lead to an accident. It also allows you to see whether your children have the skills needed to bicycle alone or with friends. A bicycle ride together can be fun and allows your children to build their skills while also reviewing possible safe routes for biking.
5) Setting rules. Set rules for your children about bicycling. Depending on your children’s age and bicycling experience, this may mean no biking in specific areas or late at night. For all children, this should mean rules about helmet use and rules to avoid distracted bicycling. Write the rules up together and make sure that there are consequences if the rules are not followed.
6) Having others talk to your children about bicycle safety. Have your child review websites about bicycle safety or have an older sibling or trusted family friend discuss bicycle safety with your child. Hearing the same message from different sources can help ensure that the information gets through.
Many people in Florida are choosing to bicycle or walk to work because of the health benefits. The health benefits of bicycling, for example, are well documented. A 14-year Copenhagen study focused on 30,000 participants and concluded that people who bicycled to work lowered their risk of fatalities by 40% when compared to those who led more sedentary lives. An Australian study of 100 subjects found that people who switched some of their commutes over a year from car to bike lowered their risk of heart attacks and strokes while improving their fitness and cholesterol levels.
Many bicyclists in Florida who would like to make the switch, however, worry about the risk of bicycle accidents. In Miami, especially, the risk of traffic accidents involving bicycles is quite high and Florida has one of the worst records in the country when it comes to bicycle accident fatalities.
So is bicycling to work a health benefit or a health hazard?
Nation-wide statistics leave no doubt that there is some risk. In 2011 alone, 677 people died in car-bicycle accidents in the US. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that bicycles account for just 1% of trips but account for 2% of traffic fatalities.
A 2011 Barcelona study using computer models found that the benefits of bicycling outweighed the risk of injury and accident. A 2010 study out of the Netherlands concluded that bicycling accidents take away 5-9 deaths in a lifespan, while bicycling to work rather than taking a car adds 3-14 months of life. These studies do suggest that biking to work has many health benefits that are not outweighed by the risk of traffic accident in Miami. However, experts agree that more US-based studies are needed. They also note that many European cities have well-established bicycle laws are bicycling areas that motorists respect – something that bicyclists say is badly needed in Miami and other major US cities.
Experts and doctors agree that there are also many things that cyclists in Miami can do to further reduce their risk of an accident and serious injury. Wearing a helmet while bicycling for example, can reduce your risk of a head injury in Miami by up to 85%, according to some statistics. As well, staying visible, following the rules of the road, and bicycling in safer areas (in bike lanes or on bike paths rather than busy streets) can reduce your risk of a bicycle collision in Miami.
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has been working on a new campaign, “Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow…Safety Doesn’t Happen By Accident” to reduce the number of bicycle and pedestrian accidents across Florida. The agency’s goal is to reduce fatal pedestrian traffic accidents 20% by the year 2015. If successful, this would help save about 15 lives annually.
The new safety and education campaign will make use of transit ads, TV, and social media to spread information and tips on preventing traffic accidents. The agency will also team up with local law enforcement and schools to help spread the message. FDOT has also said that it will step up traffic enforcement and reconsider engineering solutions to help reduce instances of traffic fatalities in the state. Experts hope that the new campaign will help prevent serious pedestrian and bicycle accidents in Miami and across Florida.
There is certainly room for improvement. According to FDOT, Florida’s rate of fatal pedestrian accidents is twice the national average. This means that across the state 10 pedestrians and 2.3 bicyclists, on average, are killed weekly. FDOT’s three-pronged approach seems promising because it will involve a focus on:
1) Engineering. Many car collisions in Miami and across the state are caused by poor signs and poor roadway conditions. Changing these conditions can help prevent fatalities, injuries, and expensive legal action caused by these poor road conditions. For example, adding sidewalks in areas where there are no sidewalks can help prevent some pedestrian accidents in Miami. Adding bicycle lanes is important in preventing bicycle accidents. Some research has also suggested that different types of signs may be more effective in helping to prevent traffic accidents.
2) Education. Educating motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists is vital in preventing traffic collisions in Miami and other communities. Motorists need to be taught to focus on the road and to avoid distracted driving. Pedestrians need to be reminded to take extra precautions when walking – especially when walking at night or when walking in higher-traffic areas without sidewalks.
3) Enforcement. Pursuing those who violate traffic rules is important in sending out the message that unsafe driving will not be tolerated in Florida. Vigilant enforcement can help prevent reckless driving and some drunk driving accidents in Miami.
Another issue that could potentially help protect bicyclists and pedestrians are legislative changes. Some experts and advocacy groups believe that changing laws – in order to ban texting and driving, for example, or in order to make penalties for reckless driving harsher – would help discourage unsafe drivers and would give injury victims more options in pursuing justice.
Hövding is the name of an invisible helmet that has received much attention in the bicycling community in the past few years. Some experts believe that this helmet can help prevent injuries caused by bicycle accidents in Miami Lakes and other communities.
The helmet does not look anything like a typical helmet, in part because so many people sustain head serious injuries because they do not like the look of traditional helmets. This fact had Swedish design students Terese Alstin and Anna Haupt intrigued. Working together since 2005, they developed an invisible helmet.
The helmet is not magically invisible, of course. Instead, it looks like a large collar or scarf. The idea behind the helmet is simple: the collar contains an airbag that deploys in the event of a traffic accident in Miami Lakes (or anywhere) and covers the wearer’s head. Currently, the helmets cost about $515, although the manufacturers are working to lower costs by changing production in upcoming years.
In addition to price, another question that the manufacturers face is skepticism about the helmet. Florida bicycle enthusiasts wonder whether the airbags in the collar would really inflate reliably each time to prevent head injuries and spinal cord injuries. In Miami Lakes and other communities, after all, a car-bicycle collision means that airbags have to inflate in a fraction of a second to offer protection to the rider. In addition, the helmet would not protect bicyclists from overhanging obstacles and other potentially dangerous head injury types. Bicyclists are also concerned that the helmets – which are already much more expensive than traditional helmets – can only be deployed once. If the airbags inflate during a low-speed fall or a skid, the bicyclist will have to replace their helmet.
There is no question that the helmet is extremely interesting. It uses an algorithm to help detect when a bicyclist is moving in a way that indicates an accident. Inside the collar is a helium gas inflator. To activate the helmet, the wearer places the collar around their neck, closes the zipper, and pushes a button. The entire device weighs about one and a half pounds and in future years the company making the helmet plans to offer a range of styles and designs. In the event of a collision, the manufacturer of the helmet notes that the airbag device deploys in 0.1 seconds, covering the wearer’s head and protecting them from injury.
The manufacturers also claim that the invisible helmet is in fact safer than the traditional helmet. When the company sought to get EU safety certification, they approached Folksam, a Swedish insurer, for independent testing. Folksam discovered that Hövding performed at least three times better than twelve traditional helmets when it came to the hit/drop tests. In shock absorbance tests, traditional helmets had average acceleration results of 180-250 g, compared with 37 g for the Hövding. In addition, the invisible helmet covers more of a wearer’s head in an accident and can handle multiple impacts in one accident.
Hövding is now seeking to attain the U.S. CPSC standard, which will mean more tests. Bicyclists in Florida are no doubt watching the news for developments. The U.S. CPSC standard is considered by some to be tougher than comparable EU tests and the additional testing could help residents understand more about whether the helmet could help prevent head injuries in Miami Lakes and other communities.