Bike accidents lead to around 4 percent of California traffic fatalities

Bicycling is a popular cost effective and eco-friendly mode of transportation in San Diego due to the pleasant weather. However, there are some dangers associated with the activity, not often considered by many people.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 677 bicyclist fatalities in the United States in 2011. In California alone, 114 people lost their lives in bicycle accidents that year - accounting for over 4 percent of all traffic fatalities in the state. The rate of bicyclist fatalities was about 2 percent higher in California than the rest of the country, where bicyclist deaths accounted for just 2 percent of traffic fatalities.

Bicycle collisions result in about 500,000 people requiring emergency medical care across the country annually. Some of the most severe injuries result in fatalities or long-term health consequences especially in the case of head injuries.

As a result of these staggering statistics, efforts have been made - both through legislation and suggestions from governmental agencies - to ensure bicyclists remain safe while on the road.

California bicyclists: Protect yourself from collisions with motor vehicles

One of the most important recommendations bicyclists can follow is to always wear a helmet. California law requires only those who are under 18 years old to wear a helmet when riding a bike; however, it is a practice that all bicyclists would be wise to follow.

According to a doctor at the University of Washington, head injuries are one of the most serious consequences of collisions between bicycles and motor vehicles. Following such accidents, two-thirds of the individuals who require hospitalization suffered a head injury, while three-fourths of bicyclist fatalities are the result of a head injury. The physician estimated that around 85 percent of the head injuries sustained in bicycle accidents could have been avoided had the bicyclist been wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

In addition, bicyclists should always wear bright or reflective clothing and ensure the lights on their bicycle are functioning properly, particularly when riding at night. Bicyclists are also advised to travel in the same direction as traffic and to take special precautions when riding by parked vehicles, as a quickly opened car door can lead to serious injuries.

Bicyclists should avoid riding when distracted, as well, as quickly checking a cellphone or listening to music can prevent a bicyclist from avoiding a dangerous situation.

If you have been injured in a bicycle accident in California, seek the advice of a skilled personal injury attorney to ensure your rights are protected.