Some of the biggest risks for California bicyclists involve teen drivers. This is a high-risk category of motorists, and teenagers because of their lower experience, susceptibility to peer pressure, and delusions of invincibility, are more likely to cause bicycle accidents.
The risk of a bicycle accident involving a teen motorist is much higher, when a bicyclist is out at night. New research indicates that when there are stronger restrictions on nighttime driving for teen drivers, the risks of a teen driver accident drop.
The study was based in Massachusetts, and found that when stronger rules for nighttime driving by teen drivers were enacted, there was a drop in serious accident rates. In Massachusetts, in 2007, new regulations imposed severe penalties for unsupervised nighttime driving for teenage drivers between ages 16 and 17. When the researchers analyzed the data, they found that accident rates involving teenage drivers of this age group actually fell by 40% after the new rules were enacted. Overall, they found that there was a 19% drop in all types of accidents involving drivers between the ages of 16 and 17. Overall, these drivers were involved in approximately 29% lower nighttime accidents after the new rules came into effect.
As a bicyclist, you can reduce your risks of an accident at night, by simply avoiding riding after dark. If you have to ride at night, take precautions. You are less visible at night, so stick reflective tape on your clothes, helmet and bicycle to make sure that you are visible to motorists. Avoid riding at night wearing all-black clothing, and without bothering to make yourself visible. Make no mistake-your risk of being involved in an accident is much higher when you’re riding at night. If you were involved in an accident, consult a California bicycle accident lawyer for help filing a claim.
California was recently ranked number eight on a list of the most bicycle-friendly states in the country. The two top spots on the list were taken by Washington and Minnesota, while Alabama landed at the bottom of the list. Apart from Washington and Minnesota, the top five included Delaware, Massachusetts and Utah.
The ranking was developed by the League of American Bicyclists, and was based on a number of measures, including bicycle-friendly policies in the state, advocacy programs, legal protections, as well as bicycle-friendly infrastructure. Each state got a report card that included feedback about the state’s policies, and suggestions.
For California, the League of American Bicyclists recommends the adoption of a statewide bicycle plan that would ensure better implementation of policies. The report also recommends better data collection of bicycle accident injuries, and fatalities on roadways across California.
The report makes special mention of the fact that there is a disproportionately high number of bicycle fatalities in California, and calls for more emphasis on bicycle safety-programs, and transportation projects. The report also advises that the state adopt a vulnerable road users law that would significantly enhance the penalties in place for motorists who cause an accident that leads to injury and death of a bicyclist.
The feedback isn’t all negative. The report also has praise for some of the steps the state has taken to help enhance safety for bicyclists in California. One of the more successful measures that have been implemented are the Three-Foot Passing law that requires motorists to maintain a minimum of three feet distance when they pass by a bike. Other signs of success are the Share the Road Campaign, the Complete Streets policy, and the high numbers of bicyclists accounting for more than 1% of the total population.