Report: surprising number of bicyclist accident victims intoxicated, don’t wear helmets

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Among roadway safety advocates, it is a well known fact that bicycling has increased in popularity in recent years and that this has brought about a related increase in the number of accidents involving bicyclists. How much has the incidence of bicycle accidents increased? According to a recent Governors Highway Safety Association report, about 16 percent between 2011 and 2012.

The increase is markedly higher in a handful of states, including Texas. This state, along with New York, Florida, Illinois, California, and Michigan, accounts for over half of the fatal deaths reported nationwide. Interestingly, the two major causes of death in these cases are intoxication and failure to wear a bicycle helmet. In fact, nearly 30 percent of cyclists involved in traffic accidents were found to have had a blood alcohol concentration at or above the legal limit of 0.08 percent. 

This information is interesting for a couple reasons, one of which is that cyclists primarily put themselves at risk when they choose to drink before cycling and not to wear a helmet. Even in cases where a cyclist does wears a helmet, the risk of injury is still significant in the event of a crash.

Another interesting aspect of the information is that intoxication, and sometimes even failure to wear a bicycle helmet, could potentially be used against a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit. Although it does depend on the law of the state, the doctrine of comparative negligence can end up leaving an injured cyclist with a lower damages award, even in cases where the motorist is at fault. This, to be clear, definitely depends on the circumstances of the case and state law, so accident victims should be sure to work with an experienced attorney to help them maximize their damages when they are at risk of contributory negligence.

Source: Guardian Liberty Voice, “Bicycle Deaths on the Rise,” Constance Spruill, October 28, 2014.

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