CYCLING ACCIDENTS AND SAFETY IN THE UK
It is a well known fact that not only is cycling good for your health, but it is good for the environment too. However, whilst it certainly has a positive impact on the environment, some people may argue that the health claim is debatable!
According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (“RoSPA”), over 16,000 cyclists are killed or injured in reported road accidents in the UK each year. Over 2,500 of those are either killed or seriously injured. It is important to note that there are thousands of unreported incidents each year, and the RoSPA have suggested that there are over 150,000 accidents that occur off-road each year.
Around 25% of the cyclists killed and injured are young children and apparently males are much more likely to be involved in cycling accidents than females. In fact, the RoSPA have suggested that four out of five cycle casualties are in fact male. However, majority of cycling accidents occur during the daytime, and in particular during peak-time traffic (i.e. around 8:30am and 5:00pm), when most people start and finish work.
It is important to determine why so many cycling accidents occur each year and what can be done to reduce the number of incidents in the UK. Amongst children, most cycling accidents occur whilst playing or riding too fast and subsequently losing control over the cycle. However, most adult accidents involve collisions with motor vehicles, either by motorists emerging into the path of a cyclist, or on roundabouts and junctions which are undoubtedly the most common and where cyclists are most vulnerable. Many cycling accidents also occur when cyclists decide to overtake, simply forgetting that they are relying on the manual power of their legs to overtake other motor vehicles!
The most obvious and common way to reduce the risk of serious injury is to use cycle helmets. In most circumstances, using a helmet will inevitably reduce the risk of serious head injury. The RoSPA have suggested that around half of the cyclists who go to hospital following a cycling accident sustain head injures. However, many cyclists still refuse to use them and this may have fatal consequences if involved in a cycling accident.
Cyclist training is also extremely important, and acquiring knowledge on how to maintain your cycle is equally as important as learning how to ride in heavy traffic conditions. Defective breaks and low tyre pressure can quite often lead to accidents, and it is important that your cycle is in a road-worthy condition at all times.
At the London Cycling Campaign, the campaigns and development manager Tom Bogdanowicz, clearly explained the importance of cyclist training in a short statement:
“Training helps you to be confident in traffic and adopt a road position where you can be seen, communicate clearly with other road users and be aware of traffic movements”
If you have been hurt or seriously injured in a cycling accident it is important to seek professional advice from specialist solicitors who will ensure that you obtain the maximum compensation for your injuries.
Ramrattan S. Bhambra is a trainee solicitor working with WInston Solicitors LLP who manage the http://www.theclaimsconnection.co.uk/ compensation website