Officials urge safety in wake of Tuesday’s bicycle accident
Warm weather months pose certain safety concerns that aren’t as notable during other parts of the year.
One of such concerns is motor vehicle safety in relation to cyclists, both bicyclists and motorcyclists.
This past Tuesday, officials said an 18-year-old male bicyclist was traveling on the access road in front of Russellville Hospital when he failed to yield at the stop sign at the intersection of Underwood Road.
Officials said the bicyclist collided with a passenger car traveling west on Underwood Road that was attempting to cross the intersection.
Reports indicate the bicyclist, who was not identified, sustained moderate injuries and was airlifted to a regional hospital where he was treated for broken bones.
Russellville Police Lt. Scotty Lowery said motor vehicle accidents involving cyclists are not an often occurrence in the area, but they can become a dangerous situation very quickly because of the lack of protection a cyclist has when it comes up against a motor vehicle.
“We urge motorists to always be mindful of their surroundings no matter what time of year it is,” Lowery said.
“But during the summer months, cyclists are more of a concern because this is a big time of the year for them to be out on the roadways and it is easy for a person on a bicycle or a motorcycle to be overlooked because they are obviously not driving something as large as a car or truck.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2011, 677 pedalcyclists were killed and an additional 48,000 were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes.
Pedalcyclist deaths accounted for two percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities and made up two percent of the people injured in traffic crashes during the year.
Lowery said while it is important for motor vehicle operators to be aware of cyclists on the road, it is also important for cyclists to be aware of their surroundings and the traffic laws.
“The rules of the road apply to cyclists just the same as they apply to motorists,” Lowery said.
“Traffic lights, stop signs and other traffic laws should all be observed by someone whether they are driving a truck, a motorcycle or a bicycle.”
The NHTSA’s Office of Safety Programs lists several tips motorists and cyclists can observe to reduce the number of traffic-related fatalities and injuries:
• All bicyclists should wear properly fitted bicycle helmets every time they ride. A helmet is the single most effective way to prevent head injury resulting from a bicycle crash.
• Bicyclists are considered vehicle operators; they are required to obey the same rules of the road as other vehicle operators, including obeying traffic signs, signals, and lane markings. When cycling in the street, cyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic.
• Drivers of motor vehicles need to share the road with bicyclists. Be courteous – allow at least three feet clearance when passing a bicyclist on the road, look for cyclists before opening a car door or pulling out from a parking space, and yield to cyclists at intersections and as directed by signs and signals. Be especially watchful for cyclists when making turns, either left or right.
• Bicyclists should increase their visibility to drivers by wearing fluorescent or brightly colored clothing during the day, dawn and dusk. To be noticed when riding at night, use a front light and a red reflector or flashing rear light, and use retro-reflective tape or markings on equipment or clothing.