Channel 4 out of Jacksonville reports that a bicyclist is dead after being struck by a small SUV on State Road A1A in Ponte Vedra Beach.The 26-year-old man was hit while he was riding on S.R. A1A near Marlin Avenue just after 9 p.m. Thursday. The Florida Highway Patrol said a 1999 Toyota 4Runner was traveling southbound on S.R. A1A in the right lane as the cyclist was traveling southbound in the bike lane. The SUV traveled into the bike lane and hit the cyclist. FHP said the individual was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. Officials said the cyclist was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. His family has been notified and were at the scene. Charges are still pending for the driver of the Toyota. The lighting equipment on the bicycle is also under investigation. The outside southbound lane of A1A in that area was shut down Thursday night.
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This tragedy reinforces the conclusion many recent studies have come to – helmets help save lives in bicycle accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis, in 2009, there were more than 100 deaths that resulted from such accidents. In 88 of those fatal cases, the bicyclist was not wearing a helmet. Florida has more fatal bicycle accidents than any other state. It should go without saying that safety is always important. Anyone who has witnessed the damage done to a bicyclist when hit by a negligent driver can tell you that protecting your head with a helmet is a good idea. The statistics back this up:
- Collisions with motor vehicles account for 75 percent of all bicycle fatalities.
- Head injuries account for about 60 percent of motor vehicle collision deaths.
- Bicycling accounts for nearly three times as many head injuries than either baseball or football head injuries.
- Wearing a helmet can reduce your risk of head injury by about 85 percent.
- 75 percent of bicycle-related deaths among children could be prevented with a bicycle helmet.
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Bicyclists are required to use the bicycle lane and ride with the flow of traffic, as per state law. They also should obey all traffic laws ” stopping at red lights and stop signs, among other laws ” and use headlights and taillights when riding at night. Bicyclists also are encouraged to wear light-colored clothing to aide in visibility. Drivers should give bicyclists at least three feet when passing, and should be on the lookout for bicycles and motorcycles while driving to create a safer driving environment.