Riding in a car is actually a dangerous activity, even though many people do it several times a day without a second thought. Traumatic injuries from car crashes remain a leading cause of death for people of all ages in the United States.
Not only is the crash risk that comes from driving concerning, but the structure of modern vehicles contributes to the negative health consequences of a sedentary lifestyle.
Walking or cycling can seem like safe and healthy alternatives to inactively riding around in a metal box. Unfortunately, while there are health benefits associated with frequently walking or biking, you still have plenty of safety risks when you use a bike or your two feet as your primary mode of transportation.
Pedestrians and cyclists have disproportionate risk on the roads
Pedestrians and cyclists have always had a greater degree of risk than people in vehicles for suffering serious injuries in a traffic collision. A person on a bike or someone walking poses almost no threat to someone in a vehicle. However, even the smallest motor vehicle could easily kill a pedestrian or cyclist.
Uneven risk is part of the reason why pedestrians and cyclists make up such a significant portion of New Jersey traffic fatalities. In 2020, New Jersey saw 585 traffic fatalities in crashes. That was an increase from 2019. Pedestrians accounted for 175 of those deaths.
While that number is actually slightly lower than the total reported pedestrian deaths in 2019, it’s still concerning. Cyclists deaths also rose, from 12 in 2019 to 20 in 2020. Overall, traffic deaths were up, and people not in motor vehicles made up one-third of all traffic deaths in New Jersey.
Many factors influence your risks as a cyclist or pedestrian
There are certain things you can do to reduce your risk when walking or biking. Wearing reflective, illuminated or brightly colored clothing and safety gear can help draw the attention of drivers nearby. Being defensive in your cycling and attentive when walking is also important.
Finally, you should try to follow the rules of the road as much as possible while also trying to stay on roads with lower overall speed limits. While these steps won’t eliminate your risk for a pedestrian or bike accident, they do reduce your chance of causing one.