Safe Families

Mar 3, 2014 11:02 AM by MELISSA CANONE

Louisiana bicycle deaths increase in 2012

Twenty-four bicycle riders in Louisiana were killed in crashes in 2012, the highest number in a decade. The increase came in a year in which the number of motor vehicle drivers killed in crashes declined.

"Fatal crashes involving bicycle riders can vary greatly from year to year," said Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. "We're not certain of why these swings occur, but we do know that many of the crashes between bike riders and motor vehicles could be avoided."

As is the case with most other types of highway crashes, fatal crashes involving bikes are more likely to occur in evening hours. Also, a significant number of bicyclists' deaths involve alcohol. While many people may think bicycle accidents involve mostly children, the opposite is true. Only five of the fatal bicycle crashes in 2012 involved kids 15 years or younger.

The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission urges all bicycle riders and motor vehicle drivers to observe the law and common-sense practices.

  • All bike riders should wear an approved helmet. Children under the age of 12 are required to wear an approved helmet.

  • Every person riding a bicycle on a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle.

  • Bike riders should give appropriate hand signals when turning, stopping or decreasing speed.

  • Every person operating a bike on a roadway must ride as near to the right side of the roadway as possible.

  • People riding bikes on a roadway must not ride more than two abreast, except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.

  • Whenever a usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a roadway, bike riders are required to use the path and should not use the roadway.

  • Wear bright clothing, especially at night, and use lights and reflectors if riding in the dark.

  • Stay alert: Use your eyes and ears to observe traffic. Don't wear earphones while riding.

  • Make certain your tires are properly inflated, your brakes work and other parts of the bike are in good working order.

  • While passing a bicycle heading in the same direction, motor vehicle drivers must keep a safe distance of least three feet from the bicycle.

  • Motor vehicle drivers should be aware that bicycle riders have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has literature and videos that explain bicycle safety available online at: www.nhtsa.gov/bicycles.

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