Archive for July, 2014

Jul 2014

What is Causing Deadly Orange County Bike Accidents?

A bicycle rider was killed this July while riding downhill on a bike trail at Morelia Way. The Orange County coroner identified the bicyclist as a 19-year-old Anaheim man. According to the OC Register, he slid into the intersection when trying to brake, crashing into a vehicle that had been traveling east. Alcohol or drugs do not appear to have played a role in the collision and the accident is still under investigation. 

Unfortunately, bicycle accidents are common in Orange County and throughout California. Some are the fault of bicycle riders or problems with bikes, but many more are caused by dangerous drivers. Victims of bicycle collisions should consult with a personal injury attorney for help determining who is to blame and pursuing a damage claim.

Top Causes of Bicycle Crashes

The League of American Bicyclists recently published a comprehensive report on the top causes of bicycle rider deaths. The report is called Every Bicyclist Counts.

To determine the reasons for bike fatalities, data was collected from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on collisions that occurred between February of 2011 and February of 2013. Details from NHTSA crash records were supplemented by information from newspaper reports about the accidents and the data was analyzed to provide a comprehensive overview of the causes of bicycle rider deaths.

There were a total of 628 fatalities included in the analysis and the vast majority were considered to be the fault of the driver. Only 94 deaths were caused by the bicycle rider.

Most of the fatalities occurred due to:

  • Drivers being careless behind the wheel
  • Hit-and-run accidents
  • Drivers who were intoxicated at the time of the collision

In total, around 40 percent of bicycle rider deaths occurred in accidents where the rider was hit-from-behind. This is not a common type of collision according to Outside Online, as most bike accidents occur when drivers sideswipe bicyclists. In addition to hit-from-behind collisions:

  • Approximately 10 percent of the bicyclist deaths occurred in T-bone accidents.
  • Eight percent of bicyclist deaths happened in head-on collisions.
  • Six percent of fatalities occurred in right-hook wrecks.
  • Drivers failing to yield the right-of-way to bicyclists was the cause of six percent of fatalities.
  • Sideswipe accidents were responsible for four percent of fatal crashes.
  • Two percent of the collisions resulted from a bicycle rider failing to yield.

In 33 of the collisions involved in the study, there were no listed causes for the collision. In another 146 of the studied accidents, it was not possible to determine the specific cause of the bicyclist fatality.

Although drivers were responsible for the majority of deaths, the report also showed that most do not face criminal consequences. Although 238 of the fatal collisions likely involved reckless driving, the driver faced some type of criminal sentence in only 12 percent of total accidents. Civil lawsuits brought by surviving family members of bicycle riders who are killed as a separate legal matter from any criminal proceedings that might occur after a deadly accident.

If you’ve been injured, or you lost a loved one, contact the Law Offices of Daniel C. Carlton at (949) 757-0707, or visit to schedule a consultation.