While nothing comes even close to matching the level of thrill and excitement offered by bike riding, bicycles are not immune to the threats on traffic busy roads of Virginia. And since bikes don’t provide any cushioning to the bicyclists, an impact can cause severe physical damages, in most cases, necessitating hospitalization for days.
Thus bicycle safety is nothing to be taken lightly. Motor vehicle accidents on the streets of Virginia happen with striking regularity, and while the stats (as we’ll see) are scary, such a fate is not inevitable. A little care and caution can go a long way in keeping you safe on the road.
A Peek At The Bike Accident Stats
Are bicycle accidents very common in Virginia?
Before we explore ways to ensure bicyclist safety, let’s dive in and observe the odds of being in a bicycle accident. We draw our information from the official records of Virginia DMV (Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles), which reported 13 bicycle accident fatalities in 2017.
This was a staggering 30% increase over the numbers of the previous year; the most important causes of bicycle accidents highlighted by the hundreds of cases reviewed every year include:
- Failing to yield the right of way (either party may be at fault here)
- Violating traffic signals and stop signs
- Improperly switching through lanes (use bike lanes where possible)
- Alcohol-impaired bicyclists (it can be the other way too)
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in their report, quoted more or less of the same reasons and mentioned that for a significant fraction of biking accidents, at least one party (the cyclist, car driver, etc.) was intoxicated.
These stats indicate that people need to be more vigilant even when biking because the risk of accidents is present with every ride, be it a mighty truck or a humble bicycle.
Though the percentage of bike accidents is not as much as that of other forms of traffic crashes, these crashes are still a matter of concern as hundreds of victims report serious injuries every year.
Staying Safe While Riding A Bicycle
Accidents don’t happen out of the blue, every case involves a chain of causality, perhaps a single decision that unleashes a cascade of events culminating into the said event, and in some cases, innocent pedestrians are also pulled in the mess.
This is also true for accidents involving city bikes, mountain bikes, electric power-assisted bicycles, and so on; the bicycle rules and legal regulations apply to all. The best way to deal with the threat is to avoid all risky actions. Try to remain in a bike lane when possible. Here are the safety tips you need to know:
The Helmet Is Not Optional
While wearing bike helmets is not a legal requirement for cyclists under bicycle laws (after a certain age), it is still highly recommended. Bicycle helmets won’t make an accident more or less likely to happen. Still, they will safeguard you from a traumatic brain injury and other catastrophic injuries to the head (even if superficial) in case of an accident.
It may seem a bit pessimistic at the moment that we started with the possibility of you being in an accident. Still, the stats are pretty clear about the risks, and it is important that you prepare beforehand.
Better to have and not need than to need and not have, right?
Is there any downside to wearing helmets?
No, of course not.
Be Sure To Obey All The Traffic Laws
Your safety on the roads and bicycle paths is only assured if you obey all the traffic signs and signals without fail and understand traffic patterns well. Being a law-abiding citizen does not have any flip side, so why not be a bit more responsible?
Even on seemingly light-traffic public roads, you can’t know for sure what danger lurks on the corner of the street, so be sure that you follow all the traffic laws, travel in the same direction as the flow of traffic, and respect the lanes of traffic and other road markings.
Colored Clothing Can Help
Bright and reflective shades in your clothing make you easy to spot, especially in the nighttime hours. However, bright-colored clothes are recommended for the daytime as well – the idea is to be as noticeable as possible so that the drivers are mindful of your presence.
Many accidents happen simply because a car driver simply failed to notice the cyclist in time (i.e., due to motor vehicle blind spots). Thus wearing bright colors can help by making you more noticeable.
Reflective Lights Can Help In The Night
Bicycles can be equipped with headlights and rear lights, just like motorcycles and cars. These may seem optional since some models don’t come with the two preinstalled, but they are as important as anything else in cycling through a network of urban roads.
Especially in the nighttime, these lights (either flashing or reflective ones) will make your bike much more noticeable for other road users and thus preempt collisions.
Go for them. Even if you use only the bike path, it will be helpful nonetheless.
Reflective tapes and reflective clothing work well too.
Learn To Say No To A Drink
By some estimates, around 24% of all bicycle accident fatalities involved alcohol consumption on the part of either side. The legal blood alcohol concentration for an adult individual is .08 g/dL; any higher than this, and you’re technically breaking the law, even if nothing bad comes out of it.
As a cyclist, you won’t only have to maintain a steady balance but also steer and paddle – no task for an alcohol-impaired driver, is it? Considering the general traffic situations in Virginia, it is best to avoid drinking if you plan on cycling because, in an accident, even a slight dose of liquor can become a factor.
As for underage individuals, drunk driving is a much worse legal offense, especially if it causes an accident.
While all of the precautions or safe practices listed above will not guarantee safety, they will improve your odds of staying safe from traffic crashes. Thousands of accidents are reported every year in the state of Virginia, with hundreds of victims dying as a result.
Please, don’t become another statistic. Your life is precious. Value it as you would a treasure – ride safely!
VACAIL Law Firm Is All The Legal Representation You Need
Being an accident victim is indeed a devastating affair, all the more for a responsible bicyclist. The emotional and physical toll of being involved in such a horrifying event is overwhelming, to say the least, but you don’t have to suffer in silence.
Demanding a fair monetary settlement for your losses via a personal injury claim is both morally justified and is your legal right. As long as you had no role in causing the accident, you’ll be well within your rights to demand maximum compensation for your damages (i.e., property damage, medical expenses, pain and suffering, etc.)
But the legal tussle that awaits is both complicated and dirty.
No need to contend with the greedy insurance adjuster’s cheap tactics. Instead, you should sit back and rest while your wounds heal and let a team of experienced personal injury lawyers from the VACAIL law firm handle your case.
We offer legal representation without any upfront payments or advance on our legal fees, so don’t hold back from calling us today and seeking justice for your losses!
Let's get started with your free consultation!