Illinois Fifth Most Dangerous State for Cyclists

National report by the Governors Highway Safety Association found that Illinois ranks among the top states for bicyclist fatalities in the country. On top of this, the overall number of bicyclist deaths is actually rising, at a rate of about 16% per year. Bicycle crash lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm explain this report and what cyclists can do to prevent accidents.

The annual report, Spotlight on Highway Safety: Bicycle Safety analyzed data from 2010 to 2012. The only states with higher numbers of bike fatalities than Illinois were: California, Florida, Texas, and New York. These states are all highly populated with large urban centers, where bicyclists often interact with motor vehicles and pedestrians. Urban bicycling is far more fatal than cycling in more rural parts of the country, for obvious reasons.

Nearly 70% of cyclist deaths occur in urban areas, compared to about half of deaths in 1975. This trend is driven in large part by the migration to inner-cities that has proven popular among millennials, along with more and more people who choose to commute by bicycle.

In 2012, bicyclists made up about 2.2% of all motor vehicle-related deaths. Of those fatalities, two-thirds were not wearing helmets. About 21 states currently have laws that require all bicyclists under the age of 18 to wear helmets, however, Illinois is not one of them. It is not required for anyone to wear a helmet in Illinois, regardless of where they are riding.

Adult males make up about 74% of all bicyclist deaths, and, as stated, lack of helmet use along with alcohol impairment are major factors in these deaths.

In many states, including Illinois and particularly Chicago, there are large-scale efforts to accommodate bicycles on the road. Mayor Rahm Emmanuel campaigned on the promise that he would install hundreds of miles of bike lanes throughout the city over the next decade of so – a plan that he is well on his way to accomplishing. Although total physical separation is ideal (such as the protected bike lanes currently on Dearborn downtown), the city has also installed painted-on bike lanes and other techniques to make the city safer for everyone.

Pedestrian accidents with cyclists are also becoming more common. Chicago Tribune reporter Ron Grossman recently wrote a piece on a near-crash he experienced as pedestrian. Many of these accidents occur when cyclists are riding on sidewalks, which is illegal, but more and more crashes are happening on city streets, when bicyclists fail to yield, or pedestrians fail to look before they walk.

How to Keep the Road Safe

There are many ways to help reduce the injuries and fatalities suffered on our roadways. Some have suggested licensing for bikers and a requirement for insurance. Other steps can be taken right away:

• Use your helmet properly. Every time.

• Know the laws governing interactions between bicyclists, pedestrians and motor vehicles.

• Be particularly alert when going through intersections, particularly in the six-corners crossing so evident in Chicago.

• Enhance visibility through reflective clothing and lighting.

• Reducing alcohol-impaired driving by both motorists and bicyclists.

Any type of accident that is caused by the negligence of another could be grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. Negligence can take many forms, whether by a driver, cyclist, pedestrian or even the company that manufactured the bike if it is defective in any way. Accident lawsuits largely depend on eyewitness testimony, police reports, and other testimony to prove that a party’s negligence caused the accident and resulting injuries. For example, if a driver is cited for speeding at the same time as the accident, that could be used as proof of driver negligence.

Courts typically hold drivers to a higher standard because they are able to inflict the most harm, and bicyclists are expected to behave as motorists on the road. If you or someone you love was seriously injured in a bicycling accident, contact our team of bicycle crash lawyers immediately. We offer free case reviews to victims and families nationwide.

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