College-aged individuals face significant risk when riding bikes

For countless college students, bicycles are an everyday part of life, even during the winter months. It is how they get to class and, in many cases, may be their primary form of transportation. However, while riding your bike may be both economical and good for your health, it can also be quite dangerous.

In fact, according to data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 743 cyclists were killed and roughly 48,000 injured in accidents involving motor vehicles in 2013, the most recent year for which information is available. Sadly, the NHTSA also noted that individuals aged 20-to-24 had the highest bike-accident injury rate of any other age group. In addition, more than half of all bike accident fatalities occurred between 3 pm and midnight, which is when many college students are active.

Can anything be done?

There are many things you can do to improve your chances of staying safe while cycling, including:

  • Follow the rules and play it safe: Obey the rules of the road, after all, even if you are in a bike lane, cars may still be zooming by only a few feet away. Also, you never know when a motorist will drive negligently, so even if you have the right of way, always ride defensively.
  • Be on the lookout for parked cars: While moving cars pose a significant risk, parked cars can be dangerous as well, including when a motorist unexpectedly opens up his or her door directly in your bike’s path.
  • Wear proper gear: Not only should you wear a helmet, but bright, reflective clothing as well. Quite simply, it never hurts for motorists to be able to see you.

Ultimately, safe cycling habits can make all the difference between a severe injury and getting to your destination unscathed.