California among top in nation for fatal bicycle accidents

These tips can help bikers reduce the risk of involvement in a fatal crash.

Bicycling offers a fun, environmentally friendly and relatively safe way to commute to work, school and enjoy the outdoors. Unfortunately, accidents are not uncommon. Bikers can help reduce the risk of a crash by having a basic understanding of the risks.

What kinds of accidents should bikers prepare for?

Bikers face two types of accidents: falls and crashes involving motorized vehicles.

How common are car crashes with bicycles?

According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car crashes killed 857 bicyclists in 2018. Of data shared by the NHTSA, California, Florida and Texas have consistently ranked highest in the nation. The numbers reported in these areas are bad, even when compared to other warm weather states. Louisiana, which also ranked high on the list, had over 50% fewer fatal biking accidents then each of these states.

How can bicyclist reduce the risk of an accident?

The following tips can help:

· Bike with safety in mind. Wear a helmet. Follow the rules of the road and use crosswalks when appropriate to cross the street. Watch for cars, dress in bright colors to increase visibility and use reflectors and lights if traveling during dusk, dawn or at night.

· Inspect the bike. Make sure the bike is in proper working order before taking it out. Check that wheels are connected tightly and that the brakes work.

· Know the law. In California, bikers generally have the same obligations as drivers when using the state's roadways. There are some rules that apply specifically to bikers. For instances, bikers can ride along with traffic if they are going the same speed as traffic. If not, they should ride as close to the right side of the road as practicable.

· Advocate for safer biking options. Neighborhoods were designed decades ago with a focus on ease for vehicular traffic. Bikers and bike supporters can help advocate for change by writing to their local government officials and voting in favor of proposals that would include bike safety features like lower speed limits and biking lanes.

Unfortunately, even when these tips are followed accidents can happen.

What legal remedies are available in the event of a bicycle accident.

In some cases, authorities may move forward with criminal charges. This can happen if the driver was under the influence at the time of the crash or otherwise not obeying traffic laws.

Bikers can also hold negligent or reckless drivers accountable through a civil suit. This can result in monetary awards designed to punish the driver and help the victim cover the costs that result from the accident.