The number of fatal bicycle accidents occurring in California has increased during the past several years. According to data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the three-year period between 2016 and 2018, 455 bicyclists died in traffic accidents. This represents the largest number of bicycle fatalities occurring across the Golden State during any three-year period within a 25-year time frame.
As noted by Kaiser Health News, distracted driving, larger vehicles and bike sharing have contributed to an increase in bicycle accidents. Reportedly, 3.9 fatal bicycle accidents occur for every 1 million California residents. The nationwide rate is 2.6 bicycle deaths per million.
More severe injuries occur in midblock collisions
Bicyclists incur more severe injuries in those accidents occurring in areas outside of intersections. The National Transportation Safety Board notes that vehicle drivers often claim they never saw the cyclist they hit. The combination of higher midblock vehicle speeds and smartphone distractions contributes to the increase in bicycle accident risk.
The greatest number of fatalities occur in Los Angeles County
Los Angeles County has a reputation for some of the worst and most congested traffic in the nation, which may help explain why the data showed the county to have the highest bicycle fatalities. Sunny weather and low unemployment contribute to many individuals preferring to bike to work rather than drive a vehicle.
A greater volume of cars flooding the roads through ride-sharing apps also contributes to an increase in bike accidents. When a ride-share driver’s focus shifts from the road to their mobile device’s passenger pick-up information, a bicyclist may not catch the driver’s attention in time.
Legal action often becomes necessary
Bicycle accidents resulting in serious injuries or fatalities may require victims or family members to deal with complex issues of compensation and financial relief. Insurance companies may appear eager to reach a quick out-of-court settlement, but in many cases reaching a fair and just outcome needs legal action.