Sharing the road with other drivers, many of whom may not always follow necessary safety precautions, presents an ongoing hazard to motorists on Baton Rouge roads. In 2013, there were over 42,000 vehicle accidents with injury in the state of Louisiana and a total of 69,000 injured parties. However, it isn’t only those inside a truck or car who are at risk of injury in these types of collisions. In cities such as Baton Rouge, pedestrians and bicyclists are unfortunately sometimes involved as well and are at an increased risk for injury or even death.
Last year, 1,289 pedestrians were injured in car accidents in Louisiana and nearly 100 cases were fatal. While numbers of total fatal crashes has been showing a downward trend in recent years, the frightening upswing of distracted driving habits poses a particularly dangerous threat to this group. When studying data from 2005-2010, researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center found an alarming jump in fatalities of bicyclists and pedestrians due to distracted drivers. Over this time period, this particular type of accident saw a 30 percent increase in biker fatalities and 50 percent among pedestrians.
Figures such as these make it evident that being vigilant about one’s safety when sharing the road with motorists is more important than ever before. If you must walk or bike along busy roadways, there are some things you should do to help ensure your safety:
- Wear a Helmet – Wearing a helmet when riding a bike is by far the greatest step you can take to ensure your safety. It has even been reported that wearing a helmet could prevent up to 85 percent of bicyclist head injuries. However, not all helmets are the same and an improperly fitting helmet will not offer the same level of protection. Do some research to make sure you select the proper style and fit.
- Ensure Functionality – Before riding your bike, first ensure that everything is in proper working order. Check that brakes are functioning correctly and that tires are adequately inflated. It is also important to ride a bike of the appropriate size, as a bike too large or small can hinder your amount of control.
- Use Sidewalks and Crosswalks – Sidewalks and crosswalks are designed with the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists in mind. Use these whenever they are available to you. When these are not available, use extra caution and yield to traffic when attempting to cross. If riding a bike, ride with the flow of traffic. If walking, walk facing traffic.
- Increase Visibility – Being on the road at night can greatly increase the risk of injury as visibility for drivers is reduced. Make yourself seen by using reflectors on your bike or reflective decals on your clothing. Carrying a flashlight can be helpful as well.
- Turn the Music Off – Listening to iPods while walking, jogging, or biking is a popular activity, but it drastically reduces your ability to hear oncoming traffic. In the seconds before an accident, this can mean the difference between life and death. If possible, turn off the music, or if you simply must have it for your workout, keep the volume level as low as possible.
These simple tips can be lifesaving for bicyclists and pedestrians alike. Unfortunately, drivers are often distracted or careless and innocent bystanders may suffer the consequences. Protect yourself by always taking extra precautions and being aware of your surroundings.
If you have been injured by a vehicle while walking or bicycling in the Baton Rouge area, contact Spencer Calahan Injury Lawyers. Our attorneys are experienced in these types of cases and can help you determine your best course of action. To receive a free case evaluation, simply click here to submit our form, or call us directly at (225) 387-2323.