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Lights Can Help Reduce Florida Bicycle Accidents

Brooksville teenagers Justin White and Scott Avery were killed earlier this summer in separate bicycle accidents. The similarities between the two accidents have authorities asking the public to take another look at their bicycle lights. Both accidents occurred after dark and neither bicycle was equipped with lights.

The Florida Highway Patrol has noted that with Florida summer evenings being pleasant, many more bicyclists are on the road after dark. While motorists are obligated by law to watch out for bicycles and treat bicyclists like any vehicle, bicycle owners can help and reduce bicycle accidents by mounting a headlight at the front of their bicycle and a red light at the back.

Riding without lights means a greater risk of car-bicycle collisions. However, lack of adequate lights can also increase the chances of falls and collisions with objects in the dark. Bicycle accidents in the dark can occur when a bicyclist runs into something in the dark or runs over something and loses control of the bicycle. In each case, the accident can cause brain injuries, broken limbs, and other serious injuries.

Florida law necessitates that bicyclists out between sunset and sunrise must have a lamp on the front of their bicycle that is visible from 500 feet. The laws also requires a red light on the back of the bicycle that is visible from 600 feet. Reflectors are also helpful, but the small and not very expensive lights are far more visible to vehicles and therefore are more likely to reduce accidents.

The National Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that 60% of collisions involving motorists and bicycles involve bicyclists riding at night without proper lights. Lights simply provide a car with enough notice to stop safely. Without lights, experts note, motorists don’t have time to react correctly because they often do not see the bicycle in time, especially in dark conditions.

The Florida Highway Patrol suggests that parents teach their children and teens to equip their bicycles with lights and to use the lights. This is especially important for teens, who tend to ride alone at night. Authorities suggest getting teens to look at the bicycle as a precursor to a car. Just as your teen would not drive a car in the dark without lights, encourage your teen to avoid riding a bike in the dark without lights.

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