As bicycling has become a more popular mode of transportation in Massachusetts and across the country, lawmakers and experts have focused their efforts on reducing the number of injuries and fatalities caused by collisions between bicycles and motor vehicles. Massachusetts is no exception. Recently, the mayor of Boston reported his intention to cut the number of bicyclists who suffer injuries in accidents in half by 2020.
In order to successfully reach this goal, a large study was conducted to determine the most common characteristics of bicycle accidents in the city. The research revealed that most bicycle accidents occur during rush hour - between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. - and involve males in their 20s.
In Boston, there were over 1,445 bicycle accidents from 2010 to 2012 - nine of which resulted in a fatality, based on data from the Boston Police Department. Across the country, 677 bicyclists were killed in traffic collisions in 2011 alone. In addition, 48,000 people in the United States suffered personal injuries after being involved in a bicycle crash that year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Head injuries are a serious concern for bicyclists
Experts have noted that some injuries could be avoided if more bicyclists wore helmets while on the road. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons has reported that 86,000 people riding bicycles sustained head injuries that required emergency medical care in 2009.
Bicyclists who are in collisions with motor vehicles are more likely to sustain serious injuries - even fatal injuries - if they are not wearing helmets. In fact, in 2009, 90 percent of the bicyclists who lost their lives in accidents with motor vehicles were not wearing a helmet at the time the crash occurred.
As a result of these statistics, some local officials in Boston are attempting to pass legislation that would require all bicyclists in the city to wear a helmet while on the road. Of course, not all of the responsibility can be placed on the heads of bicyclists. In addition, many report that motorists need to be more aware of bicyclists on the road.
In fact, in the study conducted in Boston, 22 percent of the bicycle accidents occurred when a motorist opened a car door into a passing bicyclist and 18 percent occurred when the driver simply did not notice the bicyclist.
When a driver is negligent and causes an accident with a bicyclist, the bicyclist may be entitled to compensation to cover the damage caused in the crash. Seeking the advice of a skilled personal injury attorney will ensure the bicyclist's rights are protected.