Deadly or Traumatic Bicycle Accidents on the Rise
June 6, 2021
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bicycling leads to the highest number of sporting and recreation-related emergency department visits for traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, in the United States. Because the risks associated with traumatic brain injuries are so substantial, the CDC analyzed ten years’ worth of data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System – All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP). The agency used this data not only to determine the incidence rate of TBIs in bicycle riders but also effective ways to reduce the catastrophic injury rates and to promote bicyclist safety nationwide.
Traumatic Brain Injuries and Other Bicycle-Related Accidents
An outside force, like a violent blow to the head, causes a traumatic brain injury. TBIs can cause an array of complications, and in some cases, they can be deadly. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), some of the most common complications associated with traumatic brain injuries include:
- Cognitive impairment
- Difficulties with sensory processing and communication
- Acute seizures
- Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leakage
- Vascular and/or cranial nerve injuries
- Organ failure
In just a ten-year span, the CDC estimates there were nearly 600,000 emergency department visits for bicycle-related TBIs. The agency determined that the most at-risk groups for sustaining bicycle-related TBIs were males 18-years-old and above and children and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 14-years-old. Traumatic brain injury rates in males were also three times higher than among females. Although the number of traumatic brain injuries in children and adolescents decreased significantly from 2009 to 2018, the same did not hold true for adults. There could be many factors behind the discrepancy in injury rates, such as more adults commuting to work on bicycles, more adults bicycling for recreation, and fewer children bicycling.
Not only did the rate of bicycle-related TBIs increase during the time, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that the number of bicycle-related deaths (primarily among adults) did, too. Approximately 60% of bicycle-related deaths result from head injuries, which is why it is so critical that riders take steps to physically protect themselves and that drivers keep a watchful eye out for cyclists on the road.
Bicycle Safety Tips: Ways to Prevent Injuries
Though the majority of the children and adults who were treated in emergency departments for their bicycle-related traumatic brain injuries during the ten-year period had positive medical recoveries, the CDC notes that others experienced (or continue to experience) debilitating and ongoing symptoms. Although traumatic brain injuries and other bicycle-related injuries are not 100% preventable, there are numerous ways to mitigate the risks. Some of the safety measures the CDC recommends require legislative intervention on a city and statewide level, such as adequate bicycling infrastructure and improved compliance with traffic laws. Others, however, are steps we can all take each day to help keep bicyclists safe.
Primarily, it is crucial that bicyclists wear helmets. Wearing a helmet does not only protect a cyclist from sustaining a traumatic brain injury, but it can also make the difference between life and death. Here are a few of the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s useful tips for helmet safety:
- Always wear a helmet and other safety gear like reflective clothing
- Make sure that the helmet fits correctly and is worn correctly (follow the manufacturer’s instructions)
- To ensure that a helmet is safe, look for a label inside that says it meets the CPSC’s federally-mandated safety standard
- Replace helmets when necessary. If the helmet has cracks in the shell, missing pads (or other parts), or worn straps, it is time to get a new one. You should also replace your helmet if it sustained a lot of impact or force (like in a fall or collision), even if it is not showing serious signs of wear
Drivers also play a big role in keeping bicyclists safe. Some effective ways to reduce the chances of an accident from happening include driving slowly and obeying all posted speed limits, not being distracted, under the influence, or fatigued behind the wheel, yielding to cyclists (and pedestrians) when turning, allowing at least three feet of space when passing bicyclists, and always looking before opening your car door.
Even with people being cautious and safe, accidents will still happen. The good news is that we can make a positive impact on preventable injury rates by being responsible drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists (and by wearing a helmet!) If you are a bicyclist who was injured in an accident and you have questions about filing a personal injury claim, someone at our firm can help. To learn more, contact a representative online now.
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