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Night Bike Riders At Risk

Consumer Product Safety Commission

Night Bike Riders At Risk

CPSC Document #5003

To help reduce nighttime bicyclist fatalities, cyclists should always wear a good helmet, use front and rear lights and reflectors, and wear reflective clothing. Children should never ride at night, and cyclists should avoid riding on unlighted, narrow roadways.

Because of a sharp increase in the number of bicyclist fatalities resulting from car-bike collisions at night, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a warning to bike riders to take necessary steps to make themselves and their bicycles more visible at night.

The number of bicyclists killed at night has increased from 304 to 372 per year. In 1975, the number of nighttime deaths accounted for 30% of the total number of bicyclists killed. By 1982 (the latest year for which complete data are available), nighttime deaths accounted for 42% of the total number of bicyclists killed. One factor contributing to fatal nighttime bicyclist accidents is that the bicycles and riders are not readily visible to motorists. Motorists involved in car/bicycle collisions report that they hit bicyclists because the bicycles and riders were not visible. Cyclists' failure to wear protective helmets may have also contributed to the severity of head injuries suffered in car-bike collisions.

Therefore, CPSC recommends the following actions to cyclists:

1. Be sure your bike has reflectors required on all new bicycles by the CPSC bicycle regulation. Each bike should have front and rear reflectors, pedal reflectors, and side rim or wheel reflectors. Use front and rear lights (as required in many States) to help make your bicycle more noticeable to cars at night. Small battery-operated lamps strapped to your legs also help.

2. Wear reflective clothing to make yourself more visible to automobile drivers. Wear a reflective vest, reflective bands on arms and legs, and reflectorized tape on helmet.

3. Always wear a good helmet with a rigid (but crushable) interior material which may help absorb the force of an impact. (This is important for daytime riding, too.)

4. Never allow children to ride at night.

5. Avoid riding on dark, narrow roadways where the posted speed limit is more than 35 mph.

For more information on bicycle safety, consumers should call the CPSC Toll-Free Hotline on 800-638-CPSC. A teletypewriter for hearing-impaired consumers is 800-638-8270.