Drivers have more to be distracted by than ever before. Where a driver may once have been distracted by a phone call or changing the radio station, they now have text messages, emails, Bluetooth, digital control systems, radios, GPS units and so many other distractions that they could have affecting their ability to drive safely.
For cyclists, these additional distractions could be life-threatening. Drivers who look away from the road to send a text or who fiddle with their phone to try to skip a song on their app may not even look up before hitting a cyclist who is trying to cross their path. The risk of causing an injury or fatality is even worse when speeding is added to the equation.
Risky driving behaviors put people’s lives at risk
It is the truth that risky driving behaviors, like talking on the phone or texting, can put people’s lives at risk. If a driver doesn’t see that a light has turned red or fails to stop at a stop sign, they could plow right into a cyclist without even realizing their error.
In 2020, data showed that even though Americans had been on the road less due to the pandemic, more people died in motor vehicle accidents than had done so since 2007. The increase between 2019 and 2020 is estimated at around 7.2%, a sharp increase for a time when so few people were actually using the roads.
Common causes of accidents include actions such as speeding or driving while impaired. Those actions, as well as being distracted, played a role in an increase in the number of cyclist deaths in 2020. That year, deaths rose by 891, a 5% increase overall.
When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration looked into crash factors and demographics affected by increases between the two years, it was found that fatalities increased the most among non-Hispanic Black people and on urban interstates. Speeding-related crashes were up 11%.
As a cyclist, you deserve to ride safely. If you’re hit by a car or truck, you can ask that a distracted driver is held responsible for their actions.