Spring increases risk of bicycle and pedestrian accidents in Portland, Bangor, elsewhere

As we work our way out of the harsh winter, we look forward to Spring and the warm weather activities that we enjoy. As we move the clocks forward this weekend, our days will begin to get longer. As the weather gets warmer, we are bound to see more bicyclists and pedestrians on the roadways. And, of course, summer tourist season is just around the corner.

Our Maine personal injury lawyers want to remind motorists to keep an eye out for cyclists because it only takes a split second of distraction to find yourself involved in a crash. Negligent drivers can cause serious injuries to victims in Bangor bicycle accidents and bicycle and pedestrian crashes elsewhere in the state.
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The U. . Department of Transportation recently published the 2009 data on bicycle accidents. In 2009, there were a total of 630 cyclists killed nationwide, and another 51,000 injured. Cyclists accounted for approximately 2% of all traffic injuries and fatalities in motor vehicle crashes for 2009. The highest percentage of cycling fatalities occurred in urban areas (70%), non-intersections (67%), and between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. (29%).

The average age of cyclists killed in 2009 was 39. However, bicyclists under age 16 accounted for 13% of cycling fatalities and 20% of those injured in 2009 motor vehicle crashes.

The good news is Maine reported no fatalities for cyclists in 2009. The bad news, cycling accidents are unpredictable and can occur at any time so motorists need to be on guard at all times. One way to reduce the risk of a bike accident is to not allow yourself to get distracted behind the wheel. Cyclists are often hard to spot or come from nowhere so getting distracted increases the chances of an accident dramatically.

The Maine Bureau of Highway Safety urges cyclists to wear a helmet. It is a state law that anyone under age 16 is required to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. Failure to wear a helmet increases the severity of the possible head and spinal cord injuries that can occur. It is reported that most fatalities related to bicycle accidents are from head injuries. Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of a head injury by 85% in most cases.

The Bureau of Highway Safety offers the following tips when fitting a helmet to purchase:

-Purchase a helmet made specifically for cycling. It must be approved by ASTM, CSA or Snell.

-The best way to measure comfort is to try on several helmets. Helmets are padded differently so some may be more comfortable and fit better than others.

-The helmet must cover the forehead and the chin strap should be adjustable so that it fits tight enough to keep your helmet from moving on your head.

-A light-colored helmet stands out better and is easier to spot than a dark-colored helmet.

-Your helmet should not move in any direction on your head. Movement from side-to-side or back-to front will not provide the proper safety if an accident occurs.

The Portland personal injury lawyers and wrongful death attorneys at Peter Thompson & Associates are dedicated to fighting for the rights of victims and their families in Maine. For a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights, call toll free at 1-800-804-2004.