Recent statistics concerning Florida bicycle accidents are alarming. The Tampa-St. Petersburg area has the highest recorded incidents of fatal bicycle accidents in the nation with 7.0 per-capita. Florida leads the country as one of most dangerous cities for cyclists with 6.2 deaths per 100,000 people from 2007-2016. According to the NHTSA, this statistic is 60 percent higher than the closest competitor, which is Louisiana.
Florida is a densely populated state. Elderly drivers, an active recreational population, and many tourists that are not familiar with the roads all combine to increase the likelihood of a serious accident between vehicle, bicycle, or pedestrian. An observation of police incident reports indicates the following reasons for most of the bicycle accidents:
- Texting while driving
- Elevated blood-alcohol levels
- Careless driving (both young and older people)
- Nighttime crashes involving pedestrians
Before the summer cycling season gets in full swing, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with Florida bicycle regulations that can impact your legal rights if you are involved in a bicycle accident.
Sharing the Road with Vehicles
There is a safe way to ride bicycles that can prevent accidents even when the driver of a car is being reckless. All cyclists should become familiar with Florida Bicycle Regulations, Section 316.2065, F.S. which covers people riding a vehicle that is propelled by human power. It is the legal responsibility of the bicycle owner to keep the bicycle in good mechanical condition for roadways, such as making sure the bicycle’s brakes are able to stop within 25 feet when traveling at a speed of 10mph, and having working headlights and reflectors so you can be seen when riding at night. Another legal responsibility of the bike rider is to remain fully engaged while on the road. This includes not wearing headphones when riding, which can pose a similar risk as texting while driving.
A cyclist shares an equal right of the roadway as any other vehicle, therefore paying attention and riding on the right side of the road, with the flow of traffic, is the responsibility of the bicyclist. Coexisting on the road with motorists is made easier when bicycle traffic lanes are provided. Keep in mind that many motorists consider cyclists as ”being in their way,” and not as equals. If a careless driver or a person with an elevated BAC causes an accident, you will have a strong legal case when you can prove that you were following Florida laws for bicycle riders.
Always consider the thinking pattern of drivers and the lead by obeying all traffic signs and signals, especially when making turns. If you intend to make a left or right turn, use the entire lane and give a turn signal during the last 100 feet of travel. Florida’s bicycle laws are meant to reduce the common causes of bicycle accidents and allow both motorists and bicycle riders to safely share the road together.
Contact Armando Personal Injury Law at (813) 538-1589 or fill out our confidential contact form. We have offices in Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, and Lakeland, Florida to better serve you and your loved ones.