Bicycles are among the lightest, smallest and slowest vehicles on New Mexico roads. Additionally, bicycles do not require a driving license so they are a favorite choice of adolescent and teenagers. Bicycles, due to their size, weight and visibility are especially vulnerable to accidents. The injuries caused when a bicycle and car collide can be severe and have the potential to cause long-term medical complications.
The last round of national statistics compiled on bicycle fatalities, in 2011, showed that nearly 680 bicycle accident fatalities were reported that year with 48,000 bicyclists were injured due to collisions with other vehicles. Two percent of all car accidents involved a bicyclist, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Generally, New Mexico law enforcement aims to reduce or eradicate bicycle deaths in the state by conducting various public safety campaigns to increase awareness and to encourage the public to use safety measures while riding their bicycles. Special bicycle helmets are designed for rider safety and using helmets can go a long way to minimize the risk that bicyclists do not suffer grave head, brain or spinal cord injuries when involved in bicycle accidents.
Bicyclists are also considered to be vehicle operators when on the road. Hence, they must follow all road safety and traffic regulations designed for automobile, motorcycle and truck drivers. Bicyclists are encouraged to maintain a safe distance from other vehicles, at least a minimum distance of 3 feet or more, between other cars and vehicles.
Bicyclists can take various measures to have higher visibility to cars on the road with them and other pedestrians who may cross their paths. Bicycle riders may wear fluorescent or bright clothes in order to increase visibility to other drivers when rain, fog or darkness can obscure the presence of a biker on the road. Some cyclists use flashing safety lights or headlights and reflective clothing to ensure that sharing the road with a car at night does not end in accidental injury or tragedy.
Source: NRD.NHTSA.org, “Bicyclists and other cyclists,” Accessed on Dec. 11, 2014