Temps are up, so are bicycle and motorcycle accidents in Fort Worth
Yesterday kicked off the annual Tour de Fort Worth sponsored by Fit Worth and it was an honor to get to ride with our wonderful Mayor Betsy Price. But the warmer weather unfortunately brings an increase in the number of bicycle and motorcycle accidents in Fort Worth.
Saturday sadly marked the latest motorcycle death in our area. Texas leads in the country in the the number of fatal motorcycle crashes with almost 500 riders losing their lives each year.
And though it happened it happened in New Hampshire on Friday, it was horrible to read that seven people riding motorcycles died when a man who was driving in the wrong lane crashed into the group of former Marines. He had to be either texting while driving or driving while intoxicated, or both.
What causes all of the bicycle and motorcycle accidents?
Bicycles and motorcycles are similar. They are small and offer no protection from injuries. Drivers often don’t see them or ignore them; some probably consider them an annoyance. They are often ridden by younger people who enjoy going fast and take unsafe risks.
So there’s a constant friction between the motorists on four wheels and riders on two wheels. On the one hand, motorists must yield the right of way, pay attention to vehicles on the road, slow down, stop looking at cell phones while they drive, and not drink and drive, the usual causes of crashes. But cyclists must also obey the rules of the road, stop at red lights and stop signs, and not engage in risky maneuvers. If there is a crash, the negligence of all drivers and riders will be weighed.
There are too many motorists and bicycle/motorcycle riders who don’t seem to know basic traffic laws — or follow them. So here’s a refresher.
Texas bicycle and motorcycle laws
The Texas Transportation Code sets out the laws which are designed to keep both riders and motorists safe on the roads. As dangerous as they are, I try to stay off of them and often ride out to Lake Benbrook and back on my bike.
- Cyclists must ride in the same direction as other vehicles, not against traffic.
- Two cyclists can ride side by side as long as the traffic behind is not slowed.
- If riding at night, the bicycle must have a rear reflector/light on the back and white light on the front.
- Helmets are not required by state law, but Fort Worth and several North Texas cities require any one under 18 to wear one.
I blogged about this important topic last year: Texas Motorcycle Laws: A Rider’s Guide to the Roads
Everyone needs to remember that bicycle and motorcycle riders have the same rights and duties as other drivers.
Common bicycle and motorcycle crash injuries
Even though our bones are strong, they can easily break when hit by a fast-moving car or truck and then slamming into concrete pavement. Road cyclists are especially prone to this as they their shoes are often clipped into the pedals so they can pedal faster. Clavicles, sternums, ribs, arms, hands, legs, and feet can be broken. Medical treatment can be expensive and pain and disability intense.
Neck and low back
Even worse that broken bones are damaged discs and vertebrae to the cervical and lumbar spine. Whether the vertebrae has been broken or the disc has been been bulged or herniated, the spinal cord is compromised and an orthopedic surgeon or neurosurgeon must be consulted.
Head and brain
The most common and possibly most serious injuries are concussions, skull fractures, hematomas, and traumatic brain injuries that can occasionally lead to paralysis and brain damage.
These injuries can be minimized by wearing a helmet, which reduces the risk of death by up to 40%. But somehow, Texas does not require helmets to be worn for those 21 and over if they have passed a basic driving class and have a (mere) $10,000 in health insurance coverage. I strongly recommend that all riders wear helmets and other protective gear.
What to do if you have been in a motorcycle or bicycle crash
- Take pictures of the scene, vehicles, and injuries. Get identifying information for the other driver, witnesses, and police officer.
- Seek medical treatment immediately.
- Hire a good personal injury lawyer.
I’ve ridden a bike my entire life and rode a motorcycle in college and law school. I understand the problems riders face and how dangerous they can be. That’s why I advocate for rider safety and sponsor bike and motorcycle safety organizations and programs.
Please contact us if you have any questions about any vehicle collision.