Are more people getting hurt in bicycle accidents in West Palm Beach now than in previous years? An article in the journal Injury Prevention, discussed in a Medpage Today article, suggests that bicycle crash rates are rising across the country. The authors of the article intimate that part of the problem is not necessarily a bad thing—more people are turning to cycling for exercise and contributing to environmental protection by cycling to work instead of driving. At the same time, more people are getting hurt in crashes which could be prevented if motorists behaved differently behind the wheel.
Rising Costs of Bicycle Crashes
One of the reasons we know that bicycle accidents are rising in number and severity is the overall financial cost of these crashes in recent decades. Each year, according to the article, bicycle accidents in the U.S. alone cost more than $24 billion. Those costs are linked to initial hospital visits, surgeries and other medical procedures, rehabilitation costs and prices of ongoing care, and lost wages.
According to Tom Gaither, a physician at the University of California, San Francisco and one of the lead researchers of the study, bicycle injuries now have a financial toll that is double the annual cost of workplace injuries in the U.S. Between 1997 and 2013—the period assessed in the study—3.8 million nonfatal bicycle injuries occurred, while there were more than 9,800 fatalities. In 1997, the total annual cost of bicycle accidents was only $9.3 billion. By 2013, that number had risen by about 140 percent.
Who Is At Risk of a Serious Bicycle Accident in West Palm Beach
It is particularly important for Floridians to pay attention to the recent study. One of the reasons that the authors of the study suspect bicycle accidents are on the rise is due to the age of the cyclists on the road. More than ever before, older adults are choosing bicycles over automobiles. Given that Florida has a particularly high population of older adults, especially in comparison to many other states in the U.S., we need to think carefully about bicycle accident prevention.
During the years cited in the study, there was actually a decrease in bicycle accident fatalities among younger riders between the ages of 18-44, but a marked rise in fatal bicycle crash rates among older cyclists. Those statistics track with what we know about who is riding a bike: “rider miles in the older group [of riders aged 45 and older] increased from 1,905 million in 2001 to 3,645 million in 2009.”
Motor Vehicles Remain a Primary Cause for Bicycle Accident Fatalities
The majority of serious bicycle accidents and fatal crashes involve a motor vehicle. As such, it is important for cities and states to invest in bicycle accident prevention, from installing or improving bicycle paths and lane to other infrastructure shifts.
According to the article, “extensive cycling infrastructure leads to a reduced risk of injury.” While adding or improving bike lanes can be a costly venture, such infrastructure changes could ultimately reduce the total cost of bicycle accidents and fatalities.
Discuss Your Case with a West Palm Beach Bicycle Accident Lawyer
Were you injured in a bicycle collision with a motor vehicle? A West Palm Beach bicycle accident attorney can assist with your case. Contact Lesser Lesser Landy & Smith PLLC for more information about the services we provide to South Florida residents.