A recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration should have a sobering effect on bicycle riders. The agency reports that the total number of deaths from collisions with bicycles is at a record high. Nine hundred sixty-six bicycle riders were killed in accidents in 2021. This marks a rise in fatalities not seen in nearly 50 years.
Bicycle accidents have risen by an astonishingly high level in the past few years. Much of this may be due to the slackening of safe practices by car, truck and SUV drivers. However, much of it has to do with road design. Many highways and local roads across the country have no official bicycle lanes.
Many accidents can occur even when a road has an official lane for cyclists. This is because cyclists themselves may not be obeying routine safety measures. For example, they may not be wearing properly reflective gear. This is a danger, especially at night when such gear can help drivers to avoid hitting them.
It is also true that many cyclists fail to take proper precautions when biking on roads where traffic is heavy. Many accidents are caused when bikes get too near vehicles, especially at crossings and intersections. The consequences can be fatal if a car makes a turn without realizing that a bicyclist is in the driver’s blind spot.
Bicycle crashes are most common in heavily populated areas. This is where fatalities have increased by 62% in the past decade. However, they are also quite common in rural areas. The total number of cyclists killed in road accidents in 2021 was 41,615.
The NHTSA and other agencies are calling for major reforms. These reforms are designed to benefit pedestrians, cyclists, and motor vehicle operators. In the meantime, bike riders are urged to keep their eyes open and observe the commonly recommended safety precautions.
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