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Bicycle crashes often result in injuries or even death

More people than ever are hitting the roads in Iowa on bicycles. Whether you are riding a bicycle for your daily commute, for your morning workout or as a means to socialize with others during an organized group ride, there are risks inherent to biking. Understanding the potential risks and how to minimize them can keep you and your family safe during bike-related activities.

There are certain, common sense methods to reduce your risk. Most people understand that wearing a helmet reduces the risk of death while biking, as well as the risk of serious head injuries. You can also apply reflective stickers or lights to your bike, clothing and helmet. It's important to follow the rules of the road when it comes to biking. Signal your turns and stay aware of those in larger, motorized vehicles at all times.

Over 60 percent of bike crashes result in injuries

According to statistics gathered between 2010 and 2015, the most recent year analyzed, 1.3 percent of bike crashes result in a fatality. Another 7.4 percent of these accidents result in major injury, like head injuries, broken bones or other serious bodily harm. Over 53 percent percent of crashes result in minor injuries, while another 2.6 percent result in property damage only. In over 35 percent of crashes, the outcome is unknown, meaning the injury rate may actually be higher than 62 percent.

Minor injury crashes are likely those that involve slower speeds and a bike hitting a motor vehicle, not the other way around. When a cyclist fails to stop or turns into a car, bruises, scrapes and contusions can result. When a car hits a person on a bike, however, the injuries can quickly become catastrophic.

Know risk factors and take steps for safety

Younger bike riders are at higher risk for crashes than others. People under the age of 16 and between the ages of 16 and 24 represent roughly 49 percent of bicycle crashes in Iowa. Make sure your children understand the laws, as well as safety best practices before letting them bike on public roads. Even high school and college students could get severely injured when biking.

You probably think that driving a bike at night is dangerous. While it certainly can be, especially if you don't have both lights and reflectors visible to other traffic, there are fewer cars and bikes on the road after dark. Roughly 83 percent of bicycle crashes take place during the day time.

Almost all reported bicycle crashes take place on public roads, as opposed to interstates, state routes or U.S. routes. These are likely the most accessible roads, and they also make up majority of available public streets in the state. Even if the speed limit is low on a road, the potential for a serious crash still exists. Many times these crashes are caused by negligent motor vehicle drivers, who may also be legally responsible for the damages they cause.

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