4 Common Factors in Pennsylvania Bicycle Accidents

Knowing about the common causes of bicycle crashes may help you avoid an injury in the future.  Unfortunately, in many cases, there is little a cyclist can do to avoid being injured, because other drivers are often at fault for causing accidents.  A Philadelphia bicycle accident lawyer may be able to help you get compensated if you are hit by a car while cycling in Pennsylvania.  However, the information contained in this article will hopefully reduce the likelihood that you or a loved one gets injured while biking.

Where and When Are Cycling Injuries and Fatalities Most Likely to Occur in Pennsylvania?

Bicycle accidents are less common than car accidents, but are likely to result in wrongful death or catastrophic injury when they do occur.  While vehicle passengers are protected by seatbelts and airbags, which help reduce the risk of death or personal injury, the only protection cyclists have is a helmet, which, though effective at preventing head injuries, can do nothing to prevent injuries to the legs, arms, back, or other parts of the body.

It’s clear that cycling accidents can lead to serious physical harm.  The question is, what are the leading causes and contributing factors to bicycle-related injuries in Pennsylvania?  A report released by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation provides some answers.

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  • Age.  According to the most recent available PennDOT report, there were 1,272 bicycle crashes in 2015, leading to 1,268 injuries and 16 deaths.  Children aged five to 14 accounted for nearly 22% of these injuries (273 injuries total).  On the other hand, this age group accounted for only one out of the 16 fatalities that occurred, suggesting that children have a higher risk of non-fatal injury, but adults have a higher risk of death.  Half of the fatalities occurred in the 45- to 64-year-old demographic, with three occurring in the 20- to 34-year-old demographic.
  • Intersections.  Intersections are notoriously dangerous for all types of vehicles, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimating that roughly 40% of auto accidents occurred at intersections in 2008.  Though nearly a decade has passed since then, cyclists remain exceptionally vulnerable to this hazard.  According to PennDOT, most cycling injuries in 2015 – 768, or about 60.6% – occurred at intersections in Pennsylvania.  However, fatalities were more likely to occur at non-intersection locations, which accounted for 11 out of 16 cycling deaths (68.8%).  
  • Time of day.  Cyclists are difficult to see due to their small size and, in many cases, lack of bright lights.  As a result, you might expect evenings, when visibility is poor, to be the most dangerous time to ride.  However, the highest number of both injuries (969, or 76.4%) and fatalities (nine, or 56.3%) actually occurred during the daytime.  Surprisingly, not a single fatality occurred at dusk, though there were 40 non-fatal injuries.  The second-highest number of injuries occurred at night in lit conditions (208, or 16.4%).  Unlit roads, which you would expect to be more dangerous, had fewer accidents.  However, that is likely attributable to the fact that most roads are at least partially lit.
  • Type of road.  As any Philadelphia or Pittsburgh resident can tell you, riding your bike on a hectic city street can be a nerve-wracking experience.  Knowing what traffic can be like in a big city (or even small town), it’s unsurprising that most bicycle injuries – 691, or about 54.5% – took place on local streets and roads.  However, according to statistics, there may be even greater danger in riding on state highways.  In 2015, Pennsylvania state highways became the sites of 10 out of 16 cycling fatalities (62.5%).  No deaths or injuries were reported on interstate highways, where cycling is prohibited, or in driveways.

What to Do if You Were Hit by a Car While Riding Your Bike in Philadelphia

Unfortunately, a sizeable portion of Pennsylvania bike accidents are caused by other vehicles, which cyclists cannot always predict or avoid.  According to the PennDOT report, 404 out of the 1,272 total bicycle crashes (about 31.8%) involved another vehicle.  Most of these vehicles were passenger cars (225), followed by light trucks (167), heavy trucks (five), motorcycles (three), and commercial buses (two).  There was not a single instance of a bicycle-on-bicycle collision.

The data also reveals another alarming piece of information: not a single bicycle accident in 2015 resulted in property damage only.  Every last crash that was reported in 2015 caused an injury or fatality, suggesting that riding a bike may be even more dangerous than motorcycling.

If you, your child, or one of your family members was hurt in a bicycle accident in Pennsylvania, call personal injury attorney Brent at the Wieand Law Firm, LLC at (888) 789-3161 to confidentially discuss the legal options that may be available to you in a free consultation.  Depending on the circumstances of your accident, you could be entitled to compensation for your losses, including hospital bills and lost earnings.

*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes.  It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice.  The Wieand Law Firm, LLC is based in Philadelphia, PA, and proud to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.*

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