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Tips for staying safe on a bicycle

Worried about getting in an accident while riding your bike? Thinking that the odds of serious injuries are really high because of your relative lack of protection?

It's good to have this mindset. There is a serious risk every time you take to the road. Below are a few tips that can help keep you safe.

  1. Get a helmet and always wear it. Even if you're going for a short ride, wear it. Head injuries are some of the most serious injuries you can suffer, and a helmet dramatically improves your chances. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says the odds of a head injury could drop by up to 88 percent.
  2. Make sure cars can see you. Use lights and reflectors, during the day and the night. Choose bright clothes or reflective clothes.
  3. Use hand signals. Tell drivers where you're going. Many accidents happen due to miscommunication. A driver thinks a cyclist is going straight when he's or she's turning and runs into him or her. With two cars, this is a fender-bender; with a bike, it could be a fatal accident.
  4. Leave the distractions at home. It sounds nice to take phone calls on your headphones or listen to music. You enjoy it and it helps you multitask. It also means you're less likely to notice that someone else made a mistake because you're distracted. Concentrate on the road and traffic at all times.

These tips absolutely can help, but they won't prevent all accidents. Plus, when drivers are negligent, cyclists shouldn't have to go out of their way to avoid crashes. They have a basic right to safety. If yours is violated, be sure you know your legal options.

Source: Orange County Transportation Authority, "Safety Awareness," accessed Dec. 21, 2017

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