With the recent increase in popularity of two-wheel transportation, many more individuals are taking to city streets and rural country roads on their bicycles to commute to work or as a form of exercise. However, the sport can be extremely dangerous, especially in congested urban environments like the Chicago metropolitan area.
Statistics maintained by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) indicate that nearly 700 bicyclists in America lost their lives in vehicle-related accidents in 2011 and another 48,000 suffered injuries. Statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report that there were more than 600 bicyclists fatalities and 52,000 cycling injuries resulting in motor vehicle-related accidents in 2012.
Because of the inherent dangers of being hit by a moving vehicle, many cyclists have begun installing by cameras. In fact, the sales figures of the most popular models of video cameras have more than doubled every year.
Like any vehicle accident, determining which party is to blame for a bicycle-related crash or accurately describe what happened can be extremely challenging. However, the increased use of small cameras attached to the bicycle or cyclist’s helmet appears to be making things easier. In fact, video cameras can catch the entire episode and save the captured images to be viewed at a later date by law enforcement, insurance companies and the parties involved in the incident.
This is important because bike riders have long had a challenging coexistence with pedestrians, drivers and truckers who often have confrontational attitudes when sharing the road with two-wheel vehicles. As an intermediary, bicycle cameras have the ability to provide electronically captured evidence in what is often a dispute between individuals involved in accidents occurring in parking lots, rural roads and city streets.
A video camera can serve as an invaluable tool used by law enforcement to investigate serious accidents, such as hit-and-run cases. Attorneys representing injured cyclists or surviving family members of a loved one lost to a bicycle accident use the captured video images when presenting the case in front of a judge and jury in a personal injury lawsuit.
Capturing Video Keeps Everyone Safer
In addition to deterring motorist-related harassment against bicyclists, the technology tends to encourage bike riders to maintain better riding habits and follow safety rules at all times.
Some experts believe if more bicycle riders begin using cameras as a way to capture images, motorists might think twice about behaving badly or running the cyclist off the road. Recording the events in real time help determine who was at fault, whether the driver cut in front of a cyclist sharing the road or there were other factors including:
- Was a cyclist provided enough space to operate their two-wheel vehicle safely?
- Did the cyclist perform a head check of their surrounding environment before maneuvering their bike?
- Did either the cyclist or the driver need to make an evasive action to avoid a near-crash event?
Recording bicycle riders in action have revealed that many drivers are not taking adequate steps to ensure the safety of the cyclist in their vicinity. In many incidences, the driver does not leave a large enough gap when entering or exiting driveways and parallel parking bays. Captured video reveals common problems including unsafe lane changes or unsafe turning maneuvers by drivers who are either unaware or uncaring that a bicyclist is moving parallel in the same direction. In addition, “dooring” is a serious issue that endangers bike riders, when motorists and passengers unexpectedly open the car door without checking to see if any cyclist is approaching.
In the years ahead, video cameras installed on cyclist’s helmets or handlebars might make a significant improvement in the health and safety of bicycle riders nationwide. Until then, the cyclist will need to be courteous when sharing the road with others and obey the rules of the road by riding defensively at all times. Bike riders can avoid injuries or death by assuming that surrounding motorists, truckers and pedestrians are unaware of their presence and ride appropriately. In addition, if possible the bicycle rider should slow down, maintain adequate road space and stay aware to react quickly to other users on the road.