OKLAHOMA FATAL BICYCLE ACCIDENT STATISTICS
Oklahoma fatal bicycle accident statistics do not tell the entire compelling personal stories of the tragedies. Take for example the death of Patrick Wanninkhof on July 30, 2015, just south of Elk City. Law enforcement charged an Oklahoma woman with 1st-degree manslaughter and the improper overtaking of a bicycle.
About six months later, a renowned Oklahoma bicyclist, Donnie Cashion, lost his life from the injuries he suffered in a car accident. A driver who ran a red light plowed into Cashion, who was a familiar face worked at Schlegel Bicycles located in Oklahoma City.
The latest year for the release of statistics that concern bicycle fatalities in Oklahoma goes back to 2012. For the three-year period between 2010 and 2012, the most fatalities happened in 2010, with nine bicycle related deaths. Over the course of 2011, only one bicycle accident fatality was recorded in the state. Five bicyclists lost their lives because of accidents in 2012, which made the three years average five deaths.
State Health and Safety officials have not presented a breakdown of the reasons for bicyclist fatalities. However, a study found 45% of crashes are caused by solo acts of negligence or difficulty maneuvering, such as falling off a bicycle or hitting a slick spot and crashing into a barrier. Automobiles caused 18% of the crashes, and most of the legislation strives to protect bicyclists by placing restrictions on motorists. Other bicyclists cause 17% of all crashes, which makes the top three reasons for bicycle crashes account for 80% of the accidents.
Established Laws for Cyclists
When the Oklahoma legislature received a report that described the popularity of cycling in the state, it passed several laws that remain the standard for promoting cycling safety.
Oklahoma bicycle safety laws comprise Oklahoma Statutes Title 74, Chapter 1, Section 104 that cover bicycles, motorized bicycles, and electric-assisted bicycles. Municipalities such as Stillwater and Oklahoma City strengthen cycling laws by adding restrictions to both cyclists and motorists.
The most fundamental law defines a bicycle as a vehicle, which means cyclists must adhere to the same statutes that apply to motorists. By law, motorists must stay at least three feet away from bicyclists when performing passing maneuvers. Whenever failure to follow the three-foot rule leads to a collision and causes serious injuries to a cyclist, the driver can receive a fine not exceeding $500. The death of a cyclist caused by failure to follow the three-foot rule is no more than $1,000. However, criminal charges can apply for both instances.
Road or Sidewalk
Because of the vehicle classification, cyclists should try to remain on paved road surfaces. You should ride where you feel safest. If that means taking to a sidewalk, just remember that pedestrians have the right of way. Accidents caused by sidewalk riding include moving at unsafe speeds and failing to notify pedestrians of your passing bicycle. Simple declarations such as “behind you” or on your left” work well for passing cyclists.
Riding on the Road
Oklahoma state law mandates bicyclists to ride “as close as it is safe to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.” Cyclists have the legal right to move around debris, pass parked vehicles, and avoid making contact with animals and pedestrians. A good safety rule to follow involves checking behind you by looking into the left side mirror and making a clear motion that communicates your desire to move into the closest lane. Roads that do not have shoulders and bike lanes allow you to ride in the middle of the right-hand lane, but you have to demonstrate intent to move into the lane by making an arm motion.
Speaking of Arm Motion
If you want to turn left, stretch your left arm out at a 90-degree angle and point where you intend to go. For turning right, you can either stretch your right arm at a 90-degree angle or use your left arm and bend your elbow as if you want to deliver a high-five.
Oklahoma law mandates bicycle riders to install and use a white headlight for nighttime riding. The beam on the white headlight should shine up to 1,000 feet. A red taillight should beam 1,000 feet as well. You cannot wear earphones or headphones when in control of a bike. Always wear a helmet to help reduce the number of bicycle fatalities.
Established Laws for Motorists
Title 47 of Oklahoma statutes list the laws motorists must follow to avoid accidents with bicyclists. Statute Title 47 § 11-304 addresses vehicles passing other vehicles. No vehicle can pass another vehicle using the right lane. The only exception to the law is if the other vehicle is about to make a left-hand turn from the left lane. This law passed to prevent motorists from hitting cyclists they cannot see because of obstructed views caused by other vehicles.
As one of the lesser-known motorist laws, Title 47 § 11-804 mandates vehicles to operate at speeds above the minimum speed limit on any roadway that includes signs clearly defining minimum traveling speeds. The intent of this law is twofold, with one of the reasons to prevent fast-moving cyclists from rear-ending slow moving vehicles. Moreover, Oklahoma’s Department of Transportation established a regulation that prevents bicyclists from riding on highways and interstates that do not have designated bike riding lanes.
Title 47 § 11-1111 makes it a felony for anyone traveling in a motor vehicle to throw objects such as trash from moving vehicle. Anyone who witnesses someone throwing an object or substance from a moving vehicle at a bicyclist should immediately report the incident to law enforcement.
Conclusion: Anti-Texting and Driving Laws
Oklahoma was late joining the anti-texting while driving movement, but the recent passage of a law prohibiting texting and driving should help reduce bicycle accidents caused by motorists. The Oklahoma legislature typically addresses bicycle safety issues after publicized deadly incidents like the events that took the lives of Patrick Wanninkhof and Donnie Cashion.