Riding a bicycle can be an inexpensive, fun, and environmentally friendly alternative to driving a car. It’s also an excellent form of physical exercise. Unfortunately, it can also be dangerous, especially in Louisiana.
In 2019, according to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, there were 22 bicycle fatalities and 728 bicycle injuries in Louisiana. Louisiana routinely ranks around 2nd or 3rd for most bicyclist fatalities in the United States. There are several reasons for this, mainly owing to driver hostility toward cyclists, distracted driving, and driving under the influence.
Why is Louisiana So Dangerous for Cyclists?
Take a look at a few of the key reasons Louisiana poses a higher risk to cyclists than many other U.S. states.
In 2018, Louisiana ranked 9th in the nation for drunk driving fatalities per capita (4.64 per 100,000). The frequency of drunk driving tends to increase during seasonal events and holidays, including the state’s famous Mardi Gras festival, which takes place in New Orleans. Cyclists should be especially cautious on the road during these periods. Drunk drivers are less likely to notice cyclists on the road than cautious, sober, and aware drivers.
Data from the National Security Council (NSC) indicates that bicycle deaths in the U.S. peak in the summer months, beginning from June through September. The number of deaths nationwide for cyclists is at its lowest in January, when many states experience cold temperatures, meaning fewer cyclists are on the road.
Louisiana’s subtropical climate means hot summers and only mild winters, making conditions suitable for cycling practically year-round. This naturally increases the risk for bicycle accidents because more people use this mode of transportation year-round than in other states.
Some drivers feel that cyclists do not belong on the road, which can cause them to have less regard for your safety. Drivers may actively harass bicyclists, yelling or throwing objects at them.
If a driver deliberately or recklessly causes you to crash your bike, our New Orleans bike accident lawyers can help you recover damages against the person responsible. If you are hit by a car while riding a bike, you can suffer serious injury. The resulting medical bills can quickly become overwhelming, especially if you’re unable to return to work.
In the 2019 Bicycle Friendly State Report Card, the League of American Bicyclists gave Louisiana a D in Infrastructure & Funding, ranking 44 out of 50. Louisiana does not allocate much state or federal funding to bicycle-friendly transportation infrastructure such as bike lanes, which reduces the safety of bicyclists overall.
Tips for Staying Safe in Louisiana as a Cyclist
While you can’t predict how drivers on the road will behave around or toward you, you can take precautions to minimize the risks to yourself.
Ensure that your bicycle is the correct size for you— a bicycle that is too big or too small is more difficult to control under adverse conditions. In addition, your bicycle should be 100% functional. Check the brakes to make sure they work before going for a ride, and don’t ride with a faulty chain.
Use Protective Equipment and Be Visible
Always wear a helmet that fits properly. Wearing a helmet reduces your risk of severe head injury in a cycling accident. While you should wear brightly colored clothing during daylight hours, most bicyclist fatalities occur between 6:00 and 9:00 PM, regardless of the season.
Because of this, it’s advisable to wear reflective clothing at night. Front and rear lights and bicycle reflectors increase your visibility in the dark, during rainstorms, and when it’s foggy.
Avoid Drunk Cycling
In 2019, 25% of fatal bicycle accidents involved a cyclist who had been drinking alcohol. These cyclists may have thought it was safer to bike than drive after drinking alcohol, but the phrase “don’t drink and drive” doesn’t only apply to motorists. Driving a car or riding a bicycle while impaired adversely affects your reaction time, situational awareness, and judgment. Even if it’s not illegal to ride a bike while impaired, you may still be charged with drunk and disorderly conduct or public intoxication. It’s not worth the risk.
Practice Defensive Riding
Regardless of whether you ride a bicycle, motorcycle, or drive a truck, knowing where other vehicles are in relation to you is essential to being safe on the road. Try to anticipate what other drivers will do and respond accordingly.
Part of defensive driving is being prepared, and that means having a travel plan. If you have a destination in mind, stick to pathways and roads with less traffic.
Louisiana Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help
Riding a bicycle can be a dangerous activity due to the lack of a protective enclosure. In a traffic collision with a car or truck, the bicyclist is at a significant disadvantage.
Louisiana poses a few unique risks that you, as a cyclist, should be aware of. If you or a loved one has been injured by a motorist while riding a bicycle, you may be entitled to personal injury compensation. Contact Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers for more information or a free consultation.
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