A Bay Citizen analysis of bicycle accident data from the California Highway Patrol found that young cyclists are at the highest risk of being involved in a bicycle accident than are other age groups. Bay Area cyclists ages 10 to 19 were involved in more traffic collisions than any other age group: more than 3,200 from 2005 to 2009. Nearly half of those accidents involved boys ages 12 to 16.
In an locale filled with thousands of adult cyclists, including aggressive cyclists who sprint through congested cities at high speeds, data showing that youngsters are most prone to accidents surprised even the bicycle advocates. The key takeaway from the study was the need for early education about traffic laws and safety.
The highway patrol compiles information about bicycle accidents from local police reports. According to the data, San Jose had 434
collisions involving teenagers, the most of any Bay Area city. Oakland was second with 193. “I would have thought it would be males in their 20s” who would have the highest accident rates, said Renee Rivera, head of the East Bay Bike Coalition. “Anecdotally, I see mostly young adults cycling.”
In fact, cyclists in their 20s ran a close second for collisions with motorists — about 3,100 from 2005 to 2009.
According to the analysis, teenagers were judged by the police to be at fault 63 percent of the time. By contrast, cyclists in their 20s were faulted in only 46 percent of the bicycle accidents.
According to both police and experts in bicycle safety, adolescents often put themselves in danger because they are unfamiliar with traffic laws. For example, the California Vehicle Code requires cyclists to ride on the right side of the road and follow all traffic rules, including stop signs, traffic lights and signaling.
“Bicyclists don’t think they’re vehicles on the roadway,” Sgt. Steve Paich of the Oakland Police said. “They feel like they should be treated like pedestrians.” Many teenagers think it is legal to ride their bicycles in the crosswalk, for example. “Riding in the crosswalk,” he said, “means you’re riding on the wrong side of the road,” which is the ticketing category for riding in a crosswalk.
According to the data, adolescent cyclists were cited for being on the wrong side of the road two and a half times more than for any other individual violation. Additionally, adolescents were found to be on the wrong side of the road more than any other riders.
Tips for Bicyclists: Avoiding an Accident With an Automobile:
- Keep in mind that not all drivers feel it is their duty to share the road with cyclists, and few drivers check their mirrors and blind spots as often as they should.
- Wear a helmet. Although this can not protect against an accident, it can protect you from serious injury or even death.
- Never make a left hand turn from a designated bike path. Instead, merge into left hand lane of traffic and do not cut in front of other drivers, who may not be able to see you.
- Always merge into normal traffic lanes from your bike lane as you approach an intersection.
- Keep both hands on your handlebars to maintain maximum control of your bicycle.
- Know the hand signals and make them consistently before turning.
At O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley we represent people who have suffered serious injuries as a result of others negligence on California’s roads and highways. The injuries that can result from an accident involving a bicycle and a motor vehicle are often catastrophic; including, brain and spinal cord injuries; fractures; abrasions; and internal and soft tissue injuries.
The bicycle accident attorneys at O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley work with medical professionals, vocational rehabilitation experts, and financial planners to determine all of the effects of serious injuries. We have the skill and experience to ensure that individuals and their families receive the financial support necessary to help them move forward with their lives.
The attorneys at O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley are well known and respected throughout the legal community and among our clients. From our offices in Contra Costa County, San Francsico and Sacramento, we serve clients throughout Northern California. Our experience and expertise are available to you. Contact us now for a free consultation.