Our sunny climate allows cyclists to enjoy riding their bikes for work or pleasure almost year ‘round, except for possibly during the unpredictable rainy summer season. But the sad news is Florida ranks as the number one state in the country for bicycle accidents.
According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Florida has the highest number of deaths annually per 100,000 residents, at 0.57 per year. That equates to 6,675 bicycle crashes statewide, and 128 cyclist fatalities. The national rate is about half that at 0.23. To put that another way, Florida is home to only 6% of the entire country's population, yet has 17.4% of total bicycle fatalities.
As you may imagine, the larger metropolitan areas have the most bicycle crashes each year, like Miami, Orlando, the Tampa Bay area and Jacksonville. But Lee County ranks as the 5th highest number of crashes involving bicyclists in the state.
Sadly, Florida's metropolitan centers were not designed to accommodate both cars and cyclists. Only recently have municipalities begun to adapt smarter road and bike path plans in order to try to reduce the numbers of cyclist fatalities on our roads. It isn't hard to imagine the tragic outcome of a 2-ton car hitting someone on a bicycle. As experienced bicycle accident attorneys, the lawyers at Goldberg Noone Law Firm have seen all too often how serious collisions between a car and a cyclist can change someone's life forever, or in the most traumatic situations, result in the loss of a life.
There are many reasons why bicycle accidents are so prevalent in Florida. One is the scary epidemic known as ‘distracted driving'. Florida is one of the few states that, as of this writing, has not enacted a primary offense distracted driving law. This means that if a law enforcement officer sees you texting on your phone or otherwise driving while distracted, he can't pull you over and ticket you unless you're committing another type of traffic infraction.
A few years ago, a law was passed that required bike lanes to be 7 feet wide, instead of the initial 4 feet. The problem is that existing 4-foot bike lanes were not mandated to be widened – only new ones being designed and built. Another problem is the lack of adequate lighting at night on many roads and at intersections.
The bottom line is drivers simply, in most cases, never see the cyclist prior to the crash.
Some Florida Bicycle Crash Statistics
The National Transportation Safety Board, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and more all provide regular reports with statistics regarding crashes involving bicyclists. Here are a few interesting facts:
- 20% of fatal cyclist accidents happened between 6 and 9 pm
- The average age of bicyclists killed when struck by a motor vehicle was 45 in 2014, up from 24 years old in 1988
- 88% of Florida's cyclist fatalities were male
- 19% of cyclists killed were over the legal BAC (blood alcohol content) level of 0.08%
- In 35% of fatal crashes, either the car's driver or the cyclist was over 0.08% BAC
- 64% of fatal cyclist accidents happened at locations other than an intersection
The Fort Myers News-Press did a very comprehensive study on the dangers of bicycle riding in Southwest Florida a few years back, and some of their findings were a little surprising.
People may assume that since most bicycle accidents occur during our busy winter season, it's likely an older ‘snowbird' behind the wheel who caused the crash. But the newspaper, after looking at the details of over 1,400 accidents covering a 5-year span, found that drivers 20 to 24 years old were ranked 1st as being responsible for hitting a cyclist. So, while it may be easy to point a finger at our senior visitors, that's just not accurate.
Many drivers have animosity towards cyclists, and act as if they do not have the same right to be on the road as they do. Not only is this false, it creates a terribly dangerous situation when you have so many cars and bicycles interacting daily on our roads. There have been several stories of road rage against cyclists, and we've all seen video of a car purposely running into, or over, someone riding their bike.
There is no ambiguity when it comes to the status of bicycle vs. car on Florida roads – a bicycle is considered a vehicle, and has every right to share the road with motor vehicles. But to be granted that right, cyclists are required to follow the exact same traffic laws as does a car driver.
Many drivers just cannot accept that, and become angry and make bad driving decisions when they encounter a cyclist or group of cyclists. Granted, there are cyclists on Southwest Florida roadways who aren't doing people who like to peddle any favors by riding like idiots. Blowing through stop signs or stop lights at intersections, not having proper lights on the front and back of their bicycle, not wearing any reflective clothing at night and riding against the flow of traffic are all things we see cyclists do, and they are all against the law.
The irony is that many motorists feel the way they do about cyclists because they think cyclists have a lesser right to the roadway than they do – and its cyclists not obeying traffic laws that bring that feeling on.
Physical Injuries from Bicycle Injuries
Because of not being protected by being inside a car, cyclists are prone to many more, and more serious, types of injuries than are those in a car. A cyclist may suffer multiple impacts in the event of a crash, such as when the car strikes them, the rider then falling to the ground, the rider hits another object like a sign post or other structure, or in worst case scenarios, when the car runs over the rider.
Some of the more common injuries we see here at Goldberg Noone involving cyclist injuries include:
- Head and skull injury
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Facial and dental injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Neurological damage
- Fractured bones
- Amputation injuries
- Wrongful death
We have also seen cases in which the ‘road rash' effect of a cyclist being struck by, and even dragged by, a motor vehicle, have ground the surface of the road under the skin of the cyclist.
Let an Experienced Bicycle Accident Attorney Help
If you've been seriously injured in a bicycle accident, a skilled attorney may be able to help you obtain fair compensation for your injuries, current and future medical costs, lost wages from being unable to work, home health care and permanent disability.
You also may be entitled to financial compensation for your pain and suffering, which can include physical pain, mental anguish, emotional distress, lost quality of life and other non-economic damages. The bicycle accident attorneys at Goldberg Noone Law Firm understand the many complicated and intricate details involved in these types of cases, and know how to negotiate with the insurance company of the at-fault party to ensure you receive fair and reasonable compensation under the law.
We are always available to speak to you, at no cost, to review your case and help you determine whether you require an attorney to help you. You can always reach an attorney by calling us at 239-461-5508, or simply complete the form on the right of this page, and an attorney will reach out to you immediately.
If you or someone you know are injured in a bicycle accident, you're going to have many questions about your legal situation. Don't wait, and don't think you can handle this yourself. Call us right away and let us help get you back on the road.