Nearly half of all cyclist-motorist collision deaths can be attributed to driver fault and following too closely, according to Western researchers.
“The most important takeaway is 43% of cyclists that were killed were hit from behind,” said Rebecca Henderson, a Ph.D. Candidate in Health Sciences, whose research team spent two years examining pre-emptive causes and risk factors related to 131 reported cycling deaths in Ontario, Canada between 2010 and 2015.
Of the 131 cyclist deaths, 114 were male, while adults represented 87% of the fatalities. Frequency of collisions peaked in July, August and September, with 99 deaths occurring between April and September. The majority of cycling deaths occurred during clear weather, on dry roads, with good visibility, Henderson said. Fatalities were high at intersections and police reports indicated traffic volumes and speed, blind spots and encroachment were aggravating factors.
While Henderson’s study looked at other risk factors in fatal collisions between a motorist and a cyclist – including helmet use, distractions, and riding/driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol – two key messages stand out from her study, she noted.
“If I were to give one recommendation to motorists, it’s to be aware you are killing cyclists when you hit them from behind,” Henderson stressed.
“Drivers are getting too close to people riding bikes. There’s a lack of education about getting too close to cyclists. I don’t think people understand the laws around that – you need to give 3 feet of space when passing. It’s a law that came into effect Sept. 1, 2015. You can move into the other lane; those lines are there to help you. You do need to move over. There could be more education on that.”
This 3 foot passing law was just recently signed by Governor Holcomb on May 2, 2019, and was effective in Indiana July 1, 2019.
As for the cyclists, the best advice she can give is to be visible when you are on the road.
“A recommendation to cyclists is to wear high-visibility clothing. Many drivers in my study reported failing to see the cyclist before the crash. Sometimes there was sun in their eyes or glare. Sometimes it was them saying, ‘I just didn’t see the cyclist.’ There is a responsibility of the driver to be aware of the cyclist, but other studies talk about wearing bright colors, using neon ankle markings to draw attention to cyclists because it creates movement. Even on a sunny July day, if you’re wearing a white shirt, you’re not going to stand out,” Henderson explained.
Motorists need to remember cyclists are people – adults and children of all ages, riding for various purposes on the road.
Proudly partnering with Bicycle Indiana, Tabor Law Firm has long been an advocate of bicyclists in Indiana. We hope you’re never involved in a collision with a vehicle. But if you are you can trust that we will do everything we can to immediately begin a thorough investigation of your claim. Including, a visit to the scene of the accident as soon as possible. We can establish the cause of the accident and aggressively negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf in order to seek damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, property damages, and wrongful death when necessary.