People in Hawaii ride bicycles to get to and from work, for exercise, or to simply enjoy a relaxing ride around the island. While bicycling is an extremely enjoyable activity, it also can be dangerous. According to the Hawaii Department of Health (HDH), an average of two to three bicyclists sustain fatal injuries in bicycle accidents each year.
One of the main dangers bicyclists face is sharing the road with cars, trucks, and other motor vehicles. When motorists go too fast, are inattentive, distracted, or disrespectful of bicyclists’ rights, collisions occur, and serious injuries often result. Unpaved or improperly maintained roads, weather conditions, and poor visibility can contribute to these types of accidents.
Some of the most common bicycle accident injuries are lacerations, bruises, broken bones, back, and neck injuries, as well as severe head trauma. When helmets are not used, the possibility of sustaining fatal injuries increases significantly. A HDH report reveals that of the 13 fatal bicycle accidents occurring between 2008 and 2012, only two bicyclists were wearing helmets at the time of their death.
Hawaii Bicycle Accident Statistics
Hawaii saw an average of three fatal and nearly 1,300 non-fatal bicycle accidents per year, between 2008 and 2012. While the number of fatal bicycle accidents remained relatively level, there was a steady increase in the number of non-fatal bicycle accidents and injuries.
The majority of bicycle riders who suffered fatal injuries during this period of time were hit by a car. Others lost their lives from injuries sustained after falling off their bicycles. Approximately 77 percent of the 13 bicycle fatalities happened on the island of Oahu.
Close to 85 percent of all bicycle fatalities and 75 percent of all non-fatal bicycle injuries involved male victims.
|Victim Gender||Fatal Accidents||Non-Fatal Accidents|
The ages of victims of fatal bicycle accidents is widely distributed, with most victims falling between the ages of 45 and 64. This particular age group was also second highest among victims of non-fatal bicycle accidents, with children age 14 years and younger sustaining the highest number of injuries in bicycle related accidents.
The majority of victims who sustained serious non-fatal bicycle accident injuries did so as a result of falling off their bicycles. Of the bicycle accident victims who were hospitalized for their injuries, 16 percent sustained skull fractures, 20 percent sustained leg fractures, and 37 percent suffered some type of traumatic brain injury.
|Reason for Hospitalization||Percentage of Victims Hospitalized|
|Traumatic Brain Injury||37|
Types of Bicycle Accidents
Bicycle accidents can happen almost anywhere, at any time. Some of the most common types of bicycle accidents involve:
- Collisions with cars at intersections
- Accidents at stop signs or red lights
- Failure to yield
- A vehicle turning across the path of a bicyclist
- Collisions on the shoulder of the road
- Bike trail accidents
- Children attempting to do tricks, riding too fast, or losing control
- Riding against the flow of traffic
Hospital reports indicate that an estimated 87 percent of all bicycle injuries were noted as “non-traffic,” meaning the accidents or injuries took place on private properties, driveways, or in off road settings (bike trail, back road paths, etc.).
Honolulu’s Bicycle Laws
Bicycle accidents and injuries are far more common among bicyclists who are unaware of Honolulu’s bicycle laws. Following the laws, which have been laid out for the protection of all bicyclists, will dramatically improve your chances of being able to enjoy your ride without injury.
- The first thing to know is that Honolulu’s bicycle laws apply whenever a bicycle is operated upon a highway or designated bicycle path.
- Traffic laws apply to all bicyclists. This means any individual riding a bicycle will be “granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle.”
- Bicyclists must only ride a bicycle upon or astride its permanent seat.
- Bicycles cannot be used to transport more people than the bicycle is designed and equipped to carry.
- Bicyclists are not allowed to grab hold of, or attach themselves to, any vehicle traveling along a road or highway.
- Bicyclists are required to ride in the same direction as normal traffic.
- Bicyclists must also exercise caution when attempting to pass a vehicle that is either stopped or traveling in the same direction.
- Bicyclists who are unable to keep up with the flow of traffic, must ride as close to the right side curb or edge of the road as possible. The only exceptions to this law are when:– The bicyclist needs to make a left turn at an intersection or onto a private drive.
– Conditions along the ride side of the road make it unsafe for a bicyclist to ride there.
– Traveling down a one way road.
- Bicycles must ride single file unless they are in a designated bicycle lane, at which time they can ride side by side.
- If a bicycle lane is provided, bicyclists must remain there unless they are attempting to pass another vehicle, need to make a left hand turn or have to take evasive maneuvers to avoid some type of road hazard or debris.
- Bicycles equipped with motors cannot be ridden on any sidewalk.
- Bicyclists cannot carry any objects or articles which would prevent them from being able to use both hands to control or operate their bicycle.
- Bicyclists must have at least one hand on the handlebars of their bicycle at all times while riding.
- Bicyclists under the age of 16 must wear a properly fitted and fastened helmet at all times when riding along a road, city street, bicycle path or any other public area. Even children riding in restraining seats that are attached to a bicycle must wear helmets.
- Fines up to $25 can be imposed for violations of the state’s helmet law.
Safety Tips to Prevent Bicycle Accidents in Hawaii
When bicyclists follow basic bicycle safety tips, they can dramatically reduce their risk of being involved in a serious or fatal bicycle accident. The following are some of the most important safety tips for bicycle riders in Hawaii:
- Wear a helmet at all times (regardless of your age)
- Follow the rules of the road and obey all traffic signs and signals
- Never ride against the flow of traffic
- Yield to oncoming vehicles and never assume a motorist can see you
- Wear light colored clothing to help make yourself more visible
- When riding at night, wear reflective materials and make sure your bicycle has proper lights
- Attach a bag or basket if you plan to transport any item
- Ride in designed bicycle lanes or along bike paths
- Ride in pairs or groups, particularly when riding into unfamiliar areas
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a bicycle accident in Hawaii, it is important you seek legal representation from a skilled bicycle accident lawyer. Our lawyers are qualified to help you pursue compensation for your injuries and losses. Call Leavitt, Yamane & Soldner today to schedule a free consultation and review of your case.
- State of Hawaii, Department of Health: Injury Prevention and Control Section: Motor vehicle crashes, bicyclists
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Traffic Safety Performance (Core Outcome) Measures* for Hawaii
- Honolulu Police Department: Bicycle Laws