NHTSA: Florida Now More Dangerous For Cyclists

Florida has become a more dangerous place for cyclists, according to the most recent data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The latest Traffic Safety Fact Sheet, which reflects final numbers from 2013 indicate bicycle fatalities in Florida rose from 122 to 133 – an increase of 9 percent.

Nationally, the number of bicycle fatalities has been on the rise as well. In 2010, there were 618 bicyclists killed in crashes. In 2011, there were 677 bicyclists killed. The following year, that figure climbed to 726. And then in 2013, it increased again to 743. That is a staggering 20 percent increase from 2010 to 2013.

And there is ample evidence that trend is continuing. Take for example the recent death of a bicyclists struck by a passing vehicle and thrown off the Julia Tuttle Causeway in Miami. Then there was the fatal hit-and-run bicycle accident in Coral Gables that occurred in March. Police only recently arrested a 41-year-old man believed to have been driving the vehicle involved in that crash, in which witnesses watched the cyclist being dragged underneath the vehicle for almost half a mile.

The cyclist fatalities in 2013 accounted for 2 percent of the overall motor vehicle deaths annually across the country. However in Florida, they accounted for 5.5 percent of all traffic deaths.

In addition to those fatalities, there were a reported 48,000 pedalcyclists injured in traffic accidents nationally in 2013.

The only state that had more bicycle deaths was California – and not by much. In that state, officials counted 141 bicyclist deaths. But you must consider, the population in California is more than double that of Florida, and officials there counted just eight more deaths. The percentage that bicycle fatalities accounted for total traffic deaths in California was 4.7 percent, compared to Florida’s 5.5 percent.

The only other states that even come close are Texas (with 48 bicyclist deaths) and New York (with 40). This tells us we have a serious problem in Florida when it comes to bicycle safety, and it’s only getting worse.

There is some good news on the horizon, though. Recently, the Sun Sentinel reported bicyclists in Broward and Palm Beach counties are going to soon be getting a 7-foot buffer from passing motor vehicles on a number of major roads as part of the Florida Department of Transportation’s Complete Streets initiative. While state law requires a 3-foot buffer for passing cars, these bike lanes will widen that buffer and make it obvious to motor vehicle drivers the distance they need to keep.

The first local roads to be retrofitted with the new lanes include State Road A1A, U.S. 1 and State Road 7. Others will follow. And beyond just painting a line on the road to indicate where one ends and the other begins, the state DOT quietly shifted its policy recently to call for standard buffered bike lanes on all new projects moving forward.

Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

Additional Resources:
Traffic Safety Facts:Bicyclists and Other Cyclists, May 2015, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
More Blog Entries:
Florida Bicycle Accident Victim Options After Hit-and-Run, April 28, 2015, Fort Lauderdale Bicycle Accident Attorney Blog

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