New Bicycle Safety Initiative Aims to Reduce Fatalities

The federal administration has kickstarted an initiative aimed at helping reduce the steadily increasing rates of bicycle and pedestrian accident fatalities. Since 2009, those rates have been increasing at rates that are much higher than for motor vehicle accident fatalities.

The new safety initiative was announced earlier this year by Transportation Secretary Antony Fox. He made the announcement at the annual “Pro-Walk, Pro-Bike, Pro-Place” conference, which consisted of participants including transportation engineers, bicycle and pedestrian safety advocates, and city planners. According to the Department of Transportation, the campaign will run over 18 months, and will include road safety assessments across the country.

These assessments will specifically focus on walking and biking paths in every state, and resources will be developed to help build more numbers of safe streets. The campaign will also promote better walking and biking lane design, more behavioral safety, and better education and training initiatives that will help people walk and bike safety. It will also focus on the promotion of car crash avoidance technologies that are specifically designed to help protect bicyclists in pedestrian and accidents. For instance, a number of new crash avoidance technologies are aimed at helping reduce the risk of serious injuries to pedestrians during an accident.

Road design is another major factor that will be included as part of the assessment. For instance, studies have indicated to California bicycle accident attorneys that reducing traffic volumes and making more space for bicyclists and pedestrians can actually help reduce the risk of fatal accidents by as much as 29%. In fact, statistics show that when such design improvements were made in rural highways, there was a 50% drop in accidents. The initiative will specifically focus on making such improvements.

It is high time bicycle safety received the same kind of priority that auto and trucking safety does in this country, and this campaign seems to be a step in that direction.

Upgraded Driving Skills Can Help Keep Bicyclists Safer

When a motorist first passes his driving test and obtains a driving license, it marks the beginning of a long hiatus from any testing or upgrades of his driving skills. According to a new report, it’s important for motorists to be subject to the same kind of testing upgrades over the course of their motoring life that fleet drivers are.

According to the report, based on a survey of approximately 1,500 drivers, a majority of motorists lack correct driving knowledge. For instance, most motorists underestimated the stopping distance that they need to maintain between their vehicle and another vehicle. California bicycle accident lawyers find that such lack of motorist knowledge is one of the reasons why bicyclists in California are at such risk of accidents.

According to the report, many drivers simply lose touch with safe driving practices and driving laws, once they have cleared a driving test. A general motorist driving a passenger vehicle simply is not held to the same standards as a fleet driver or a commercial motor vehicle driver. In these industries, drivers are encouraged to keep up with the latest changes in the law, and upgrade their driving knowledge. In fact, some companies require employees to take regular refresher courses. Drivers of buses and trucks may be required to undertake periodic training to build their professional competence and ability.

However, there are no such laws in place for motorists. This is even though automobile design, speed and their power continue to keep changing. Modern automobiles are not just vehicles for people to drive around in, but allow people to communicate it with others, entertain themselves, surf the Internet and perform a number of other activities. Even so, years go by without a motorist bothering to update his driving abilities or driving skills in any manner.

Distracted Driving and Bicycle Accidents

When comes to bicycle safety, one factor that seems to be missing from the conversation is the role that distracted motorists play in causing bicycle accidents. Very often, motorists who are distracted because they’re using their cell phone while driving, or engaging in other activities while driving, fail to notice the narrow frame of a bicycle. By the time they notice a bicyclist, it is often too late.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the rate of bicycle fatalities per 10 billion vehicle miles traveled, actually increased substantially between 2005 and 2010. In the case of a bicyclist, the rate of fatalities actually increased from 18.7 in 2005 to 24.6 in 2010. A bicyclist, who is hit by a distracted driver, is much more likely to be male, non-Hispanic, and white. Those accidents typically occur just outside of a crosswalk.

In that context, news that General Motors will soon release a line of vehicles that come with eye and head tracking technology to help detect signs of distracted driving by a motorist, is very welcome indeed. The line of vehicles will include eye tracking technology, that will analyze the motorist’s’ eye movements, and determine whether he’s focusing on the road or somewhere inside the interior of the car. If he is not focusing on the road, the device will immediately alert the driver that he’s in danger of causing an accident.

Technologies like these are extremely welcome, especially because motorists have access to so much technology in their cars that is designed to cause accidents, and not prevent them. For instance, computers on dashboards that are found in an increasing number of cars, simply encourage motorists to be even more distracted while driving. That increases their risk of causing an accident that could injure, or even kill a bicyclist.