Even when a bicyclist takes proper precautions while riding and doing everything as he or she is supposed to do, an accident can still happen. Bicyclists along with pedestrians are among the most vulnerable when it comes to motor vehicle accidents. Adding the element of a motorist driving while impaired only increases the risk to any other motorist, bicyclist and pedestrian.

This provides the scenario of a fatal accident in which a big-rig truck hauling a trailer crashed into a bicyclist, striking the victim from behind. It was mid-morning in mid-December, the bicyclist was riding in a bike lane and was struck by a several-ton truck driven by a man later arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Alcohol involved in 37% cycling fatalities

In such cases, negligence points squarely on the shoulders of a truck driver. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), alcohol contributed to 37% of all bicycle accidents in 2018. That includes the combined numbers of drunk motorists and drunk bicyclists.

California ranked second in the nation among the states with the most bicycle-related fatalities. In 2018, a total of 155 bicyclists died on California roads, ranking only behind Florida, which recorded 161 deaths.

A more telling number is that California ranks eighth among states in their fatality rate per 1 million people. California in 2018 reported 3.92 bicycle fatalities per million residents. States and districts with higher ratios of bicyclist deaths compared with their population were Florida (7.56); Louisiana (6.22); Delaware (6.2); New Mexico (5.25);  South Carolina (4.52); District of Columbia (4.27); and Oklahoma (3.92).

Such fatalities occur for a number of reasons, and the ones involving big-rig trucks and bicycles are no different. Bicyclists must always remain on the alert when sharing a rode with these behemoth-like vehicles that may be manned by an inexperienced or poorly trained driver or traffic scofflaw who may be under the influence of substances such as alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamine and cocaine.