If you ask drivers who causes bicycle accidents, most would probably say that it’s the cyclists’ fault. They weren’t visible because they didn’t wear bright clothing or reflectors. Or they cut across the lane without using proper signals.
Cyclists, not surprisingly, have the opposite argument. Automobile drivers don’t yield to them. They rear end them because they incorrectly judge braking speed. They cause problems by trying to pass in dangerous conditions and in some cases even harass them for going too slowly.
When NPR looked into this question a few years ago, compiling data from multiple studies over decades, they couldn’t come up with a clear answer either. Some statistics showed that culpability was pretty much dead even. Others were wildly in favor of one side or the other.
But if you are a South Florida cyclist worried about getting hit by a car, there’s a more important question out there: who should you be watching out for when you’re on the road? It’s all well and good to bike as safely as possible, but surely there are drivers who have proven to be more dangerous than others.
So what kinds of drivers are causing the most bike accidents in Florida? Lucky for you, the News-Press has some answers, though some of them are probably more helpful than others.
Drivers of passenger cars. This may be skewed a bit, because passenger cars are by far the biggest percentage of vehicles on the road, but even with this caveat, they were involved in a ton more accidents with cyclists than those driving trucks, SUVs, vans, or any other kind of motor vehicle. So instead of continually looking over your shoulder at that Ford F-150, it might be wiser to pay attention to the smaller Corolla that doesn’t seem to know you exist.
Commuters… and lunch-goers? One of the findings was that a high percentage of bike-car accidents occurred around 5 pm. That makes total sense, because it’s right when many people are just getting out of work. The other big crash time, however, is a bit of a mystery: 11 am. The people at News-Press seem to think that this represents people commuting to work in the morning. But while this is possible, it seems a bit late. Perhaps, instead, it represents an early lunch crowd? Whatever the reasons, you would do well to be extra careful around these times.
Twenty-somethings. Technically, that’s not completely true. The study found that drivers aged 20-24 were the most likely to be involved in car-on-bike accidents, followed by those 45-49, then 50-54, then 40-44. Unfortunately, it’s not particularly easy to be on the lookout for all of these age groups – or even tell someone’s age that accurately – but at least it puts to bed the longtime assumption that aging seniors are largely responsible for hitting cyclists.
Bad drivers. Yes, this one is obvious, but in Florida, it’s worth pointing out. Compared to other states, our drivers are lacking in a number of ways. Just a couple of highlights:
- Almost a quarter of motorists here are uninsured.
- Our rate of hit-and-run accidents is ridiculously high – 25%!
And it’s not just the drivers. The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety say that Florida is one of only nine states that have fallen dangerously behind in passing important highway safety laws.
Before you hop on your bike for your next ride, take a look at this list as a reminder of what you should look out for and what you’re up against. Also check out this article on how to protect yourself while riding your bike. And if you or a cyclist you love is injured due to the negligence of a motorist, be sure to contact an experienced Florida bicycle accident lawyer as soon as possible to seek out the fair and just compensation you need to get back on your feet.