October 20, 2014
Bicyclists in California enjoy some of the most pleasant riding weather anywhere in the country. Unfortunately, they ride in conditions that are very often hostile to their safety. In this state, bicycle safety has never been a priority issue, and the results are clear to see in statistics released recently by the Governors Highway Safety Association. Those statistics indicate that there has been a significant increase of 23 fatalities, in the number of bicyclists killed in accidents in California between 2010 and 2012.
In 2010, California posted 100 bicycle accident fatalities and that number had increased to 115 by 2011, and 123 by 2012. In fact, California is only mirroring a nationwide trend in which there has been a 16 % increase in the number of bicycle fatalities. California is one of a few states, which posted significant increases in the number of bicycle accident fatalities over this period of time. In fact, fatalities increased in 22 states while they dropped in 23 states. In California, bicyclist fatalities constituted 4.3% of all traffic fatalities.
The Governors Highway Safety Association blames lax helmet usage laws, and poor rates of helmet usage by bicyclists for those high fatality numbers. It also blames an increase in the number of alcohol-impaired bicyclists. According to the statistics, a large number of bicyclists killed in accidents had blood-alcohol concentrations that were higher than the legal permissible level for driving. Approximately 28% of bicyclists who were killed in accidents in 2012 had blood-alcohol concentration of about .08%. Interestingly enough, during the same time, there was a sharp decline in the number of persons who operated vehicles under the influence of alcohol.
Bicyclists could be just as in danger of an accident when they’re riding a bicycle under the influence of alcohol as when they are behind the wheel of a car.