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California bicycle and pedestrian fatalities increasing

A federal report reveals that traffic deaths are up in California. More specifically, pedestrian death rates due to motor vehicle accidents are up by 3 percent, and bicyclist deaths are the roadways are up by 9 percent.

The increase in fatalities may be in part due to the increase in the number of individuals riding bicycles in recent years. One California community has seen bicycle traffic almost double during the past ten years.

A bicycle coalition group feels that improvements in safety, better bicycle training and increased awareness of drivers will help reduce the numbers of deaths that come about due to bicycle accidents. For example, as the result of the death of a 41-year old woman struck while riding in Santa Barbara, a decision was made by the locality to put in pedestrian light flashers at intersections, and to create a so-called refuge island for bicycle riders.

Yet with the increased number of bicycle riders, there is no longer an excuse for drivers not to recognize the presence of bicycle riders on the road. All the laws and improvements in safety will do little if drivers remain oblivious to what is going on around them while driving.

And since we continue to see an increase in the number of bicycle fatalities, we can expect to see more and more lawsuits brought by injured riders and their attorneys seeking compensation for their injuries. Injuries for bicycle riders can often be severe for the very simple reason that the riders are being struck by a several thousand pound piece of machinery.

Source: KEYT, "Traffic Death Rates Up," by Ryan Carmel, Dec. 18, 2012

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