Florida’s year-round mild climate makes it a great place to live for health and outdoors enthusiasts. Unfortunately, it also makes it a potentially dangerous spot. Each year, upward of 700 cyclists are killed, and an additional 48,000 are injured, in collisions with motor vehicles on America’s roadways – and Florida has the highest rate of bicyclist fatalities, followed by California and New York.
Florida traffic law holds that bicyclists are considered vehicle operators and are required to obey the same rules of the road as other vehicle operators, including obeying traffic signs, signals and lane markings. But they also have the same rights as anyone else on the road. That means drivers must share the roadways and exercise caution when a bicyclist is near.
- 69 percent of bicyclist fatalities nationwide in 2011 occurred in urban areas;
- 59 percent occurred at non-intersections;
- The hours between 4pm and 8pm are the deadliest for bicyclists, with 30 percent of fatalities happening during that time, and 21 percent happening between 8pm and midnight;
- The highest fatality rate was among bicyclists age 45-54;
- The highest non-fatal injury rate was among bicyclists age 16-20;
- The bicyclist fatality rare per capita was nearly six times higher for males than females, and the injury rate was nearly four times higher for males;
- Alcohol usage, either on the part of the bicyclist or the motor vehicle driver, was a factor in more than 37 percent of the traffic crashes that killed a cyclist.
If you’re a bicyclist, protect yourself by wearing a properly fitted helmet – the top protective measure to help avoid head or brain injuries. Wear fluorescent or brightly colored clothing with reflective tape or markings, and install reflectors or flashing lights on your bike to make you more visible to motor vehicle drivers during the darker early morning, evening and nighttime hours.
If you’re a driver sharing the roadway with a bicyclist, allow at least three feet of clearance when passing a cyclist and yield to them at intersections. Take extra care to check for cyclists nearby when making turns and when pulling out of a parking space or opening a car door.
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