May is National Bike Safety Month, and AAA encourages both bicyclists and motorists to make safety a top priority. In 2012, 726 bicyclists were killed nationwide (a 6.5% increase from the previous year) and an additional 49,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes. Of those killed, 634 were male and 90 were female (two unknown). Florida continues to lead the nation for bicyclist fatalities per million population, according to the latest data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Moreover, 69 percent of bicycle fatalities happen in urban areas, with the majority of them (63%) occurring at non-intersections. To ensure their safety, bicycle riders should make it a point to always properly cross roadways at designated intersections and never at non-intersections.
“Aside from wearing a helmet, one the most important bike safety tips AAA highly recommends is to cross at designated intersections, complimented by following traffic signal laws,” said John Pecchio, traffic safety consultant, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Bicycle riders greatly increase their chance of being injured or killed if they dart in front of vehicles or do not obey all traffic signs and signals.”
Bicycles are considered vehicles and must abide by the same traffic laws as motorists. Bike riders are encouraged to wear reflective clothing and always ride in the same direction as traffic. AAA asks adults to set good examples for novice and young riders to help ensure they practice and follow the rules of the road.
AAA and NHTSA Recommend Four Easy Steps to Help Keep Bike Riders Safe:
Wear a Properly-Fitted Bicycle Helmet
Helmets should be positioned on the head and low on the forehead, no more than two finger widths above the eyebrow
A helmet is the single most effective way to prevent head injury resulting from a bicycle crash
Develop a family rule for helmet use and enforce it for every ride
Always Follow Traffic Laws
Bicycles are considered vehicles and must abide by the same traffic laws as motorists
Obey all traffic signs and lane markings
Signal your intentions when turning or passing
When cycling in the street, always ride in the same direction as traffic
Make Yourself Visible
Wear bright colors during daylight hours
Wear reflective materials on clothing and/or equipment in low-light conditions.
To be noticed when riding at night, use a front light and a red reflector or flashing rear light
Use retro-reflective tape or markings on equipment or clothing
Tips for Motorists
Drivers of motor vehicles need to share the road with bicyclists
Focus exclusively on the road while driving. Distracted drivers can be deadly for bicyclists
Be patient and pass bicyclists only when safe to do so, leaving a 3- to 5-foot clearance between your vehicle and the bicyclist
Look before opening a car door or pulling out from a parking space; yield to bicyclists at intersections and be especially watchful for cyclists when making turns—either left or right.