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Not Only Motorists are Distracted: Pedestrian and Bicyclist Deaths on the Rise

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, just shy of 6,000 pedestrians were killed in 2016 in traffic accidents, 11 percent higher from 2015 and 22 percent higher than 2014.

bigstock-people-travel-technology-le-134934635-300x200Each year about 2 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths are bicyclists. In a majority of bicyclist deaths, the most serious injuries are to the head, highlighting the importance of wearing a bicycle helmet.

A total of 817 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles in 2015. This represents a 13 percent increase from 2014 and the highest number of bicyclist deaths since 1995.

Pedestrian deaths have increased by 10 percent between 2014 and 2015. Both of these are more than any other category of traffic-related fatalities, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The cause of this deadly trend has been greatly debated, with different groups pointing to a stronger economy and hence more cars on the road, more people walking to work or for recreation, and distraction due to the skyrocketing use of smartphone technology. Meanwhile, most efforts to prevent distraction are focused on motor vehicle drivers and passengers rather than pedestrians and bicyclists.

The United States has seen a 60 percent increase in commuter biking during the past decade, but with this increase comes risks; deaths among bicyclists age 20 and older have more than tripled.

The National Safety Council encourages all bicyclists to follow these rules to keep safe:

  • Get acquainted with traffic laws; cyclists must follow the same rules as motorists
  • Know your bike’s capabilities
  • Ride single-file in the direction of traffic, and watch for opening car doors and other hazards
  • Use hand signals when turning and use extra care at intersections
  • Never hitch onto cars
  • Before entering traffic, stop and look left, right, left again and over your shoulder
  • Wear bright clothing and ride during the day
  • If night riding can’t be avoided, wear reflective clothing
  • Make sure the bike is equipped with reflectors on the rear, front, pedals and spokes
  • A horn or bell and a rear-view mirror, as well as a bright headlight, also is recommended
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