Road Safety – Slow Down for Cyclists
Earlier this year, the fourth UN Global Road Safety Week (May 2017) focused on strategies to address and manage speed on the roads, which is a key risk factor for road traffic deaths and injuries. Speed contributes to around one-third of all fatal road traffic crashes in high-income countries, and up to half in low- and middle-income countries. Drivers are being asked to save lives and slow down. Such measures could have a positive outcome for vulnerable road users, such as cyclists.
Already this year, there have been 11 cyclists killed on our roads (compared to 10 in all of 2016). If cycling related injures statistics included both the Road Safety Authority (RSA) statistics (which are compiled from Garda Reports) and the statistics for cycling injuries presented at all of the hospitals in Ireland, it would be revealed that the actual number of cycling injuries is much higher than currently reported.
There has been a big increase in the number of people cycling regularly and it is promoted as an excellent means of transport to work (cycle to work scheme) and as a healthy exercise. However, it also brings risks.
Cycling injuries typically include head injuries and limb injuries which can be very serious, caused by passing cars or by a cyclist being catapulted over the handlebars having crashed into a car door suddenly opened in the cyclist’s path. There is an ongoing campaign in place for a Minimum Passing Distance Law (MDPL) aimed at creating a safety zone of up to 1.5m around all cyclists with the obligation for safety being placed on the motorist. The Road Traffic (Minimum Passing Distance of Cyclists) Bill 2017 has been published but not yet passed into law.
All cyclists are encouraged to be vigilant and also to know and follow the Rules of the Road. There are measures that cyclists can take to look after their personal safety and help reduce any risk of injury and to make their cycling experiences much safer. These include:
- Maintaining the bike in good working order and road worthy condition
- The minimum lighting requirements at night are that you carry a lamp showing a white or yellow light to the front of your bike and a red rear light.
- It is recommended that you wear a helmet with the “CE” mark and it should be EN1078 compliant to show it meets European Safety Standards.
- It is also recommended you wear high visibility clothing such as a reflective vest or arm bands or a Sam Brown reflective belt. Again any adult vest should be EN471 compliant and children’s vests should be EN1150/1999 compliant.
If an accident occurs, the most important thing to do is to get any necessary medical attention by calling the Emergency Services, or by going to the Accident and Emergency, or by going to your G.P. In addition to obtaining the care that you need, in the event of a subsequent claim, there will be a medical record of the injuries you incurred. Other measures that you could take are:
- Request the Gardaí to attend if necessary. However, they may not always attend a cycling incident.
- Report the accident to your local Garda Station as soon as possible.
- If a motor vehicle is involved, take a note of the registration number of the vehicle and request the driver’s name, address and insurance details.
- Do not admit liability – even if you feel that there is contributory negligence on your part, for example, if you did not use proper hand signals or you were not wearing your helmet or your high visibility clothing, you may be still entitled to partial compensation.
- Note the names and contact details of any witnesses.
- If possible take photographs of the scene. It is also helpful to take photographs of the registration number of any vehicles involved and the insurance details on the dash of the vehicles.
If you are injured in a cycling accident, you may be entitled to compensation, damages and medical expenses. It can be very stressful. We will meet with you and advise if in the first instance you are entitled to be compensated. We can also guide you through the process and bring your claim to the Injuries Board or to Court ensuring the best possible outcome for you.
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