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Front Page » October 5, 2004 » Local News » Safety guidelines designed to alleviate accident risks fa...
Published 3,729 days ago

Safety guidelines designed to alleviate accident risks faced by cyclists


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate community editor


A bicycle is crushed beneath the tires of a SUV in an accident in Carbon County last summer. Safety is a matter of concern for motorist and bicyclists alike and the rules of the road also apply to both groups.

During the summer, an unusual number of bicycle and tricycle accidents involving motor vehicles occurred in the Carbon County area.

People appear to be riding bikes more in an effort to get exercise and save on the high price of gasoline.

While there were no fatalities in the local mishaps, some individuals were seriously injured in the accidents.

Bike safety seems to be a difficult concept to promote. While most people wear seatbelts while driving vehicles, many would never think of wearing a helmet while riding a two-wheeler.

Bicycle crashes come in many forms, from cyclists being run down on the side of a narrow road and being injured while darting across a street and meeting up with a larger and heavier vehicle.

Nationally, bike accidents are grouped into five major categories.

•The first group of crashes are road entry collisions. The category accounts for more than 21 percent of bike mishaps.

•The second group are intersection mishaps.

The category makes accounts for 54 percent of reported crashes.

The accidents include bicyclists not yielding for another vehicle, the failure of a motor vehicle to stop or a cyclist or motorist colliding during a turning motion.

•Almost 16 percent are collisions that happen on straightaways.

The accidents happened when one of the drivers lost control or when a motor vehicle was passing a bicyclist.

A small percentage also happened when one of the vehicles was on the wrong side of the road.

•There is also a general category for unexplainable accidents or accidents that were caused by odd or unknown events.

The five major accident groups have sub-categories as well. Probably the two most dangerous situations occur when a motorized vehicle or a bicycle enter a road or when the car or truck turns in front of cyclists.

There are four types of entry to the road accidents.

The most accident prone is when the cyclist enters the road from a private driveway.

While the mishaps only account for slightly more than 5 percent of the crashes involving cycles, the accidents result in 24 percent of the serious and fatal accidents involving bikes of all kinds.

More importantly, 85 percent of the accidents in question involve children 14 years old and younger. In all cases, the accidents could have been prevented had the cyclist been more careful.

Intersections are the most deadly place for cyclists. More than 50 percent of accidents involving bikes happen in the high stress and busy places.

Cyclists need to be extra cautious when turning, particularly when executing left hand turns.

Cyclists spend a small amount of time passing through intersections and should be extra vigilant in the areas.

State and federal safety experts remind Carbon County residents that there are several common sense ways to avoid the majority of accidents.

The first safety measure is to obey the traffic laws. Many cyclists tend to think traffic laws govern only motorists.But traffic regulations apply equally to cyclists and motorists.

Next is to remain alert and use defensive techniques to the highest degree, notes state and federal safety experts.

Cyclists should also make sure they are visible by wearing bright clothing.

Another way to avoid problems is to take the least traveled routes to and from a specific location.

Avoiding heavily traveled intersections is a good way to cut down the chances of having a crash.

Finally, local cyclists should keep bikes in good repair. Brake repairs are extremely important, but so is the condition and inflation of the tires on the machine. A constantly slipping chain can also be a problem should one need to speed up quickly.

Bikes are at a disadvantage from their traveling companions on roadways. Cars and trucks are much bigger and heavier. But bikes do have an advantage in that they can maneuver more easily and in some cases a bicyclist can avoid an accident by just driving off the road to avoid a crash.

Tricycles are seldom used for long distance travel, but many of the same rules that apply to bikes also can be said for trikes. Dart out accidents are one of the major causes of serious injury and death. But because trikes are usually for young children, parents should always observe the following when purchasing one.

•Buy a trike that is the right size for the child. A child should be able to place their feet flat on the ground when seated on the machine.

•When buying a trike look for widely spaced rear tires that are rubber and not plastic as is so often the case on "big wheel" type trikes. Also be sure the rear wheels have hubcaps of some type and not open spokes. This will keep little fingers intact and will keep things like coats or scarves from becoming entangled, causing a loss of control.

•Try to buy a trike with padded handlebar grips, which provides a better surface for a child to hang onto.

•While bicycle helmets have become much more standard in the last few years, helmets for trike riders are not as common. For a little head the speed at which trikes can move can be just as dangerous as for a full blown bicycle.

•Finally make sure small children riding trikes know the rules of the road and obey them. The judgment of small children is often not very good when they are having fun so supervision of children riding near streets is a must.

Probably the most tragic of accidents are those where children on bikes and tricycles are run over by a family member backing out of the driveway of the home they live in. Everyone who drives a motor vehicle and who lives in a home where small children reside should be taught to look behind their vehicle before they get in to be sure no children are in the way.

Almost all accidents involving bikes or trikes can be avoided. It just takes thought, common sense and conscientious behavior to keep them at bay.


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