Last year, a study found that in spite of all the attention that is currently being paid to the risk of brain injuries affecting football athletes, it is bicyclists and not football players who have the highest risk of sports-related brain injuries. This March, the Brain Injury Association of America commemorates Brain Injury Awareness Month, dedicating this month to increasing understanding about this devastating injury.
According to the research that was released last year by the American Association of Ideological Surgeons, bicycle accidents were involved in approximately 86,000 of the 447,000 sports-related brain injuries that resulted in a visit to an emergency room in 2009. Football only accounted for approximately 47,000 of those injuries, in spite of all the attention that is currently being paid to the link between brain injury and football. The National Football League is currently embroiled in a national controversy that centers on its failure to warn players about the risk of brain injury while playing football.
Bicycling was also the single biggest cause of head injury in children below the age of 14. In this age category, the researchers counted more than 40,000 brain injuries in bicycling accidents, roughly double the number that were caused by the football.
Yet, you hear very little about preventing the risk of brain injuries involving adults and children while bicycling. There is a lot of research currently being conducted into the type of helmet that football athletes should wear to reduce the risk of multiple concussions to the head while playing the sport. You don’t see similar research being conducted on the best helmets to prevent brain injuries. You don’t even see that many awareness campaigns that promote bicycle helmet use among adults or children.
Emotions are justifiably high after a recent fatal alcohol-related car accident in Texas, in which a drunk driver plowed through a group of persons standing outside a popular music festival. One of those injured was a tourist on his bicycle. A number of pedestrian and bicycle safety organizations are calling for stronger laws, holding drivers accountable for such accidents.
Two people have been confirmed killed in the carnage that resulted when the drunk driver allegedly broke through the barricades in his vehicle. The driver did not stop and continued to drive on, plowing through pedestrians standing outside the venue of the music festival in Austin. After a while, the car came to a complete stop, and the driver fled the scene on foot. By the time the carnage ended, two people had been confirmed killed, and more than 20 people had been injured. At least five of the injured are believed to be in a critical condition.
The loss of life here, and the number of injuries that have occurred as well as the preventability of this accident, has heightened tempers. Pedestrian and bicycle safety groups are calling for stronger rules that hold drivers responsible, when they engage in such negligent driving.
They are specifically calling for pedestrian and bicycle safety rules that mirror those in countries like the Netherlands, and in other European countries. In the Netherlands, for instance, strict liability applies in an accident that injures a pedestrian or bicyclist. Regardless of the kind of negligence involved, the motorist is held responsible for the injuries that have been caused to the more vulnerable person, that is the pedestrian or bicyclist. Compare that to the United States, where motorists very often get a wrap on the wrist for an accident that leaves pedestrians seriously injured.