As more and more SUVs populate our roads, there is a growing concern about the safety of cyclists who share the same space.
The National Highway Travel Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that there were 938 bicyclist fatalities and 38,886 injuries as a result of traffic accidents in 2020. As SUVs are larger and taller than regular cars, this difference in size can have serious consequences for cyclists involved in Charlotte bicycle accidents. With the increased presence of SUVs on the road, these numbers have raised questions about the safety of cyclists and the potential risks they face.
In a recent article, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) sheds light on the alarming issue of cyclist safety when it comes to SUVs. It discusses their findings regarding the dangers posed by SUVs to cyclists, drawing attention to the need for increased awareness and action. Understanding these findings can help us better understand the risks associated with SUVs and their impact on cyclist safety.
The height of SUVs can worsen bicycle accidents
An important factor to consider regarding bike accidents and SUVs is the height difference between SUVs and other vehicles. SUVs have a taller profile compared to regular cars, which means they sit higher off the ground. This height difference becomes a concern when it comes to collisions involving cyclists. Imagine standing next to a small car and then standing next to a tall SUV. The difference in height is quite noticeable. Now imagine an SUV hitting a cyclist at that height.
The impact occurs at a higher point compared to a regular car, which can affect the cyclist’s head or upper body. This can lead to more severe injuries compared to collisions involving smaller cars. The height of an SUV essentially increases the distance from the ground to the point of impact, amplifying the force and potential harm. In contrast, smaller cars tend to cause lower body trauma, which can still be serious but may be comparatively less severe.
The IIHS article also reports that 10% of SUV accidents resulted in the cyclist being run over compared to 0% of standard car accidents. When a collision occurs, the size and weight of an SUV can also make it more difficult for the driver to stop or maneuver quickly. This can lead to a situation where the cyclist is knocked down and the SUV unintentionally runs over them. This is an incredibly dangerous and harrowing experience for the cyclist, resulting in severe injuries or even fatalities.
Cyclists can sustain major injuries in an SUV accident
In an accident involving a bicyclist and an SUV, the bicyclist can sustain a range of injuries, which can vary in severity depending on the specific circumstances of the collision. Some common injuries include:
- Head and traumatic brain injuries. The height and weight of an SUV create a higher impact point, increasing the risk of head injuries—and serious ones at that—for cyclists. Even with protective helmets, the force exerted by the collision can cause concussions, skull fractures, and potentially severe traumatic brain injuries. Such injuries can have long-lasting effects on the cyclist’s cognitive abilities, memory, coordination, and overall quality of life.
- Spinal cord injuries. Spinal cord injuries are among the most severe and life-altering consequences that a bicyclist can suffer in an accident. The forceful impact can lead to damage or trauma to the spinal cord, resulting in partial or complete paralysis, loss of sensation, and impaired bodily functions. These injuries can have a profound impact on the bicyclist’s mobility, coordination, and independence, requiring extensive medical intervention, rehabilitation, and adaptive devices. Coping with the physical, emotional, and financial challenges of spinal cord injuries necessitates significant support and specialized care to improve the individual’s overall quality of life and maximize their functional abilities.
- Bone fractures. The powerful impact from the collision can result in fractures in various areas of the bicyclist’s body, such as the arms, legs, wrists, or collarbone. These fractures often necessitate immediate medical attention, including surgical procedures to realign and stabilize the broken bones. Following surgery, the bicyclist may require immobilization with casts, braces, or other orthopedic devices to facilitate proper healing. Extensive rehabilitation, including physical therapy, may be necessary to restore strength, mobility, and range of motion, enabling the individual to regain functional abilities and resume daily activities.
- Internal organ damage. The internal organs, such as the liver, spleen, or kidneys, can sustain significant trauma from the collision. This can lead to internal bleeding, lacerations, or ruptures, requiring urgent medical attention and potentially life-saving surgical intervention. Detecting and addressing internal injuries promptly is vital, as the consequences of untreated internal organ damage can be severe and potentially fatal.
- Soft tissue injuries. The force of the impact can result in contusions, which are bruises on the skin and underlying tissues, causing pain and discoloration. Sprains and strains, involving damage to ligaments and muscles, respectively, can also occur, leading to pain, swelling, and limited range of motion. Deep bruising, known as hematoma, can develop from the impact, causing localized pain and tenderness. These soft tissue injuries take time to heal and often require a combination of rest, physical therapy, and pain management techniques to aid in recovery and restore mobility for the bicyclist.
- Psychological trauma. The emotional impact of a traumatic accident can manifest as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and emotional distress. The sudden and intense nature of the accident, coupled with the fear and helplessness experienced during the collision, can have long-lasting effects on the bicyclist’s mental well-being. These psychological injuries can significantly impact their overall quality of life, affecting relationships, daily functioning, and the ability to engage in activities they once enjoyed. Seeking professional support and therapy can be crucial in helping the bicyclist navigate and heal from the psychological effects of the accident, promoting emotional well-being and facilitating their recovery process.
Why are bicycle accidents still common in Charlotte?
Bicycle accidents are unfortunately still a persistent problem, even in this day and age. After the startling facts of the IIHS article were revealed, it’s even more apparent that there are still issues on the road, even right here in Charlotte. Here are some common reasons why bicycle accidents may happen:
- Lack of knowledge on how to share the road
- Not knowing bicycling rules and laws
- Inadequate driver education
- Lack of proper bike lanes
- Poor road conditions
- Distracted driving
- Not checking blind spots
- Failure to yield to cyclists
When a bicyclist is injured in an accident, it is crucial to seek legal guidance in order to navigate the complexities of the legal system. This is especially important, considering the severity of injuries that can result from collisions with SUVs. Even if you don’t think your injuries are bad at the moment, they could worsen with time and you do not want to be unable to pay your medical bills. A Charlotte bicycle accident attorney specializes in helping injured individuals seek justice and fair compensation for their losses, and they will fight for you.
After an accident, contact the team at Price, Petho & Associates for help. Our skilled attorneys can provide invaluable guidance and support as they maneuver insurance claims, negotiations, and potential court proceedings. Our expertise ensures that your rights are protected, and you receive the compensation you rightfully deserve. To schedule a free consultation, fill out our contact form today. We have offices in Charlotte, Rockingham, and Rutherfordton.
Attorney Doug Petho is the owner and founder of Price, Petho & Associates. His primary focus is the litigation of plaintiff’s personal injury suits, and he has successfully tried hundreds of cases to jury verdict involving car accidents, trucking accidents, pedestrian accidents, slip and fall accidents, and work-related accidents. Contact his office in Charlotte today.