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Understanding risk factors for bicycle accidents

Bicycle accidents, like car accidents, can come without warning and cause significant injuries. But there are risk factors that can increase the chance that you are involved in an accident. Understanding those risks can help keep you and your family safe while enjoying biking.

Age plays a bit role in someone's risk of being involved in a bike accident. Those who are aged nine to 14 are most at risk of being involved in an accident, and boys are statistically more likely to be involved in a bicycle-related incident than girls are. Parents who understand these risks can help protect children by teaching and enforcing bike safety rules as children grow up.

Riding in the early evening or late afternoon can increase risks of an accident, partly due to visibility issues and partly due to an increase in traffic. Wearing appropriate clothing that can be seen in lower light and equipping your bike with reflectors can reduce the chance of an accident because another cyclist or a vehicle driver did not see you.

Other risks factors include bicycling while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, riding as part of a competitive sport, riding in an environment that is not safe for bikers and riding without a helmet. Paying attention to laws and best practices with regarding to cycling can help you reduce all of these risks.

Even a cyclist who follows all safety tips, wears the right equipment and bikes only in areas considered safe can still be involved in an accident. If you are involved in an accident, understanding your legal rights and options can reduce the chance that you experience significant future financial woes related to the incident.

Source: American Family Physician, "Bicycle-Related Injuries," Matthew J. Thompson and Frederick P. Rivara, accessed Nov. 20, 2015

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