Police say distracted driving and blinding sunlight are to blame for a crash involving a group of 14 bicyclists in Davie, Florida over Thanksgiving weekend. Several riders were injured and one woman, identified as Denise Marsh, 53, died after being transported to the hospital.
Officers at the scene of the accident stated that they did not believe the driver was speeding, or that alcohol or drugs were the cause of the accident. They also stated that the did not believe the woman was texting while driving, a common cause of traffic accidents. The driver reportedly admitted that something in her vehicle distracted her momentarily, but there are no details as to what that distraction was.
This incident is an example of how, sadly, even a moment of distraction can cause a fatal accident – especially where cars and bicycles have to share the road.
Florida leads the nation in bicycle accident fatalities
Bicycle accidents are especially common in Florida, where sunny weather leads many to take their bikes out on the road. Florida has had the highest number of bike accident fatalities in the nation for several years now, leading to extensive new safety initiatives.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 150 people were killed in bike accidents in Florida in 2015. A study conducted for Florida’s Department of Transportation reported 26,036 bicycle crashes between 2011 and 2014. Several agencies report that accidents have been on the rise in recent years due to a rise in texting while driving and other distracted driving behaviors.
In this most recent incident, it seems the sunny weather that gets many out on their bikes was a contributing factor in the accident. Police stated that because the sun was shining directly down the road “at a very low spot” the morning of the accident, it was possible the driver could not see the group of bicyclists before she struck them. Drivers need to be especially careful in the morning and evening hours when this kind of visibility problem puts cyclists at risk.
Bicyclists are at high risk of serious injury
Following the recent accident in Davie, one man had to undergo surgery for serious injuries and three others were transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. This was unsurprising since, when bicycles and cars collide, cyclists are likely to be more seriously hurt. The simple lack of protection between the cyclist and other vehicles or obstacles puts them at higher risk.
Cyclists often sustain serious injuries, from broken bones to traumatic brain injuries, especially if they are dragged by the vehicle that hits them. These injuries can lead to steep medical bills, time away from work to recover, and other long-term costs.
All of this serves as a reminder that, especially in Florida, bicyclists pay the price when drivers do not pay attention.