Crash Course in Bicycle Safety

biker, personal injuryPracticing bicycle safety can significantly reduce the risk for accidents that cause significant injuries and deaths on Nevada’s roadways. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), bicycling is becoming an increasingly popular way for Americans of all ages to commute, enjoy exercise, and have fun. Unfortunately, more than 45,000 serious injuries and over 800 deaths occur each year due to bicycle accidents. By learning more about bicycle safety and following a few tips, it is hoped that Las Vegas riders and motorists alike can help ensure that cyclists stay safe.

Safety Tips for Cyclists

When riders take a few extra precautions and make safer choices, bicycles can be a fun, healthy and safe way to get around Las Vegas.

  • Helmet Safety: Studies have shown that wearing a helmet while bicycling can significantly reduce the risk for serious head injury or death in the event of a crash. About 85 percent of cycling head injuries can be prevented when a helmet is worn. Still, while about 98 percent of American commuters own bicycle helmets, only approximately 86 percent say they wear them consistently. Before heading out on a two-wheeled adventure, riders should always be sure to wear a properly fitting helmet that meets the safety standards of the Consumer Product and Safety Commission.
  • Bicycle Maintenance and Repair: Faulty equipment or a bicycle that is in disrepair can increase the risk for a crash. Tires should be properly inflated and in good condition, brakes should work correctly, and all parts should be secure. A quick inspection only takes a few minutes, and it could help save a rider’s life.
  • Alcohol Consumption: Riding a bicycle under the influence of alcohol can be extremely dangerous. Reaction times, judgement and bicycle control can all be affected. The NHTSA reports that in about 19 percent of bicycle crashes where a victim was killed, the rider had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 g/dL or greater. Cyclists should always avoid riding when impaired.
  • Riding Responsibly: Rider error is responsible for about 13 percent of bicycle crashes that result in injury or death. In Nevada, the rules of the road apply to bicycle riders the same as they do to motorists. Bicyclists should always obey all traffic laws, street signs and traffic signals, stay alert and avoid distractions, and ride predictably.
  • Hazards: About 13 percent of bicycle crashes that cause injuries and deaths are associated with roadways, sidewalks or bike trails not being in good repair. Riders should familiarize themselves with the route they plan to take whenever possible, and always be on the lookout for potholes, broken ground, rock and limbs, toys and other hazards that could cause a crash.
  • Traffic: When a cyclist crashes with a motor vehicle, the results can be catastrophic. The NHTSA reports that about 29 percent of bicycle crashes that involve serious injuries or fatalities happen when a rider is hit by a motor vehicle. Riders should use bike lanes or trails whenever possible to minimize interaction with motorists. When a cyclist must share the road with motor vehicles, he or she should always ride with the flow of traffic and yield to drivers whenever appropriate.

Sharing the Road with Bicycles

Bicycle riders aren’t the only ones who need to exercise caution and practice bicycle safety. With nearly one-third of serious bicycle crashes involving motor vehicles, it is vital that drivers play it safe as well. To help ensure the safety of bicyclists in Las Vegas, motor vehicle operators should:

  • Obey Speed Limits: Federal research reveals that between 36 percent and 77 percent of all vehicles drive at excessive or illegal speeds on non-freeway streets in the United States. When cars are traveling at faster speeds, they are more difficult for drivers to control, take longer distances to stop, and make it harder for drivers to be on the lookout for hazards. Additionally, when crashes happen at higher speeds, the damages are often more severe and there is a greater risk for fatality.
  • Avoid Driver Distractions: When a driver is using a cellphone or other electronic device, eating or drinking, or simply not paying attention the risk for a crash rises significantly. Especially when driving where bicyclists are common, motorists should avoid any distractions that could take their mind (and their eyes) off of the road.
  • Be Especially Cautious at Intersections: According to the NHTSA, about one-third of bicycle fatalities in the United States happen at intersections. Drivers should use extra care when approaching unmarked intersections, always stop at stop signs and red lights, and proceed only after looking both ways.

In Las Vegas, bicycling is common among residents and tourists alike. When riders follow bicycle safety tips, motor vehicle operators use extra caution, and roadways and bike trails are well maintained, Nevada cyclists can enjoy a much safer and more enjoyable riding experience.