Cyclists see increase in accidents

A rise of 26 per cent in the number of accidents involving cyclists in the UK has prompted an outcry for greater awareness of the dangers of cycling amongst all road users.

The Department for Transport's recently published Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: 2010, observed that in the first quarter of 2011 the total number of cyclists killed and injured on Britain's roads was 3,730 - up from 2,961 on the same period in 2010.

The popularity of cycling has grown rapidly in the last two years, with over 1.3 million more cyclists on the road now than in 2009. But with that rise has come an increase in compensation claims by cyclists who seek injury compensation after accidents on the roads.

The DfT's report states that four of the five most frequently reported contributory factors were some kind of error on behalf of the driver or rider. In 57 per cent of serious accidents involving a cyclist and a vehicle, the reason of 'failed to look properly' was attributed as the cause of the accident by the driver of the vehicle.

Speed is another common factor, and although excessive speed was cited as a contributory factor in only five per cent of accidents in 2010, it was a contributory factor in 17 per cent of fatal ones.

Other causes for accidents can include poor road surface, such as potholes, of which there are an estimated 1.6 million on the UK's roads. Obstacles in the path or road, a manufacturing fault, poor maintenance or a collision with a pedestrian or animal were also cited as reasonably common causes.

The report also estimates that the cost of all these accidents to the British economy was £15.82billion in 2009 alone, which lies in stark comparison with the estimate £18billion cost of Britain's war in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2011.

Cyclist accident facts (courtesy of RoSPA, February 2011)

- Around 75 per cent of fatal or serious cyclist accidents occur in urban areas;
- Around three quarters of cyclists killed have major head injuries;
- Around half of cyclist fatalities occur on rural roads;
- 80 per cent occur in daylight;
- 80 per cent of cyclist casualties are male;
- Almost one quarter of the cyclists killed or injured are children;
- 2,771 cyclists were killed or injured on Britain's roads in 2010 (DfT).

How to prevent cycling accidents

- Familiarise yourself with the rules of the road using the Highway Code, and stick rigidly to them
- Don't take unnecessary risks, e.g. running red lights, cycling on the left hand side of a bus;
- Wear high-visibility, reflective clothing, to help other road users see you at all times;
- If you wear a rucksack, ensure it's highlighted with reflectors or a high-visibility shell/strips;
- Wear a good quality, well-fitted bicycle helmet to help minimise the risk of head injury;
- Ensure that your bike and its component parts are well maintained, regularly - especially during the winter months;

To make a claim, you must prove that the other party was negligent, and that injury and/or property damage sustained occurred as a result of this negligence. The following steps will help strengthen your case:

1. Always exchange contact details with the other party, noting vehicle details yourself;
2. Report the incident to the police - this is particularly important in case the other party decides not to cooperate;
3. Seek medical treatment, especially where there has been a trauma, of any level, to the head;
4. Wherever possible, take photos of the accident scene - this will support any liability dispute, which often occurs in cyclist/vehicle accidents.
5. Obtain as many witness contact details as possible - these can supply valuable supporting evidence from a different perspective to your own;
6. You may well be entitled to claim against the motorist's insurance for cycle accident compensation. For advice on how to pursue a claim, either call us free on 0800 567 7866, request a call back your convenience by filling in the contact form to the right, or complete an online claim form.

A cycle accident can often be terrifying and can result in serious physical injuries and mental scars. Compensation accounts for the trauma of an accident and any costs incurred as a result, e.g. bicycle repair/replacement, replacement of bicycle accessories, medical care and loss of earnings.

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