Young Bicyclists: Does Your Child Understand Road Signs?

Chances are, if your child is learning how to ride a bicycle, you are their source for Biking 101. And this sporty outdoor education may begin at an early age; in fact, you may even be carting them around with you in a protective trailer as a baby or in a seat behind you when they are toddlers. Riding a bike is not only a great group activity, but it begins training your child who may commute back and forth to school independently one day.

In the beginning, bicycling together as a family is a great way to promote togetherness—what better way could there be to enjoy a Saturday morning? Riding a bicycle also brings on a host of health benefits to include building strong muscles and bones, promoting good cardio exercise, burning calories, and getting an overall good work out. Biking within the family is a great exercise, but it’s also a valuable way for kids to build friendships as they ride their bikes together, and they may often employ a buddy system for traveling back and forth to school later.

While your child may start riding a bike at a very young age, they will require supervision until they are old enough to understand the basics of traffic, including all the same rules you must follow, and road signs too. This education begins for small children as they learn to recognize the stop sign. They must also understand the yield sign, railroad crossing signs, road construction, crossing zones, construction zones, and more. Although you can point these signs out to your child while biking (along with quizzing them along the way too), you may want to go online or procure a driver’s education booklet for added learning.

Along with understanding the mechanics and safety rules for traffic, kids should also be completely equipped with protective gear for riding. The priority should be a helmet, so your child can avoid concussion or traumatic brain injury, and both elbow and kneepads are highly recommended (if you can get your child to agree to wear them). The bike should be well-maintained, with the tires checked regularly, a working bell or a horn, and lights if you are concerned that your child may be riding at dusk or later.

Always remember that visibility is a huge issue for bicyclists, and especially the younger riders. Reflectors are extremely helpful too and can be attached not only to the bike but also to the child’s shoes, helmet, and even clothing. Speak to your child frankly about what to do if they are involved in an accident, and always make sure they have your phone number memorized in case of an emergency.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a bicycle accident due to the negligence of another driver, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Parents: Brush Up on Traffic Laws to Teach Your Children Bicycle Safety

Bicycling: what could be better than enjoying the fresh air together as a family? Heading out to get some exercise on two wheels is usually a highly recommended activity whether as a solitary venture, or whether you branch out into a group or travel with your partner and children. Although you probably often see families on the road—and even parents biking with babies being towed behind in little buggies—do not be fooled. There has usually been great thought and attention to safety ahead of time.

Florida has also been noted (unfortunately) for increased fatalities, to the point of being referred to as a ‘killing field’ for bicyclists in recent years. On the flip side, in the right environment, bicycling can be phenomenal for your health, helping to build muscle and bone, promoting better heart and lung health, and burning enormous amounts of calories. For the younger riders, though there is usually a period of time before the training wheels come off, and they must be duly educated regarding traffic rules; in fact, one of the interesting parts of learning to bicycle is that you must know as much about riding in traffic as an experienced adult driver. You may find your child asking questions about some signs and rules that you don’t think about much—and it may even be helpful to get a book or video about understanding what it means to become the operator of a ‘vehicle,’ which you technically are when you ride a bike.

If your child is going to be biking to school unsupervised, there are specific details that should be covered such as dealing with directions, and the possibility of taking that big ‘step’ in crossing the highway. In more recreational situations, while your children should understand how to follow all traffic rules, they must also understand and be prepared with basic safety measures.

Your child’s bicycle should be properly maintained so they have a good foundation to start. Tires should be full and holding air, the chain properly greased, and the brakes working like a charm. The bike should be equipped with a bell or horn, and if there is a possibility that your child will be riding at dusk, they should have functional lights. And while it is not recommended for a younger child to be riding in the dark, if your older child might be—or if that is the case for you—make sure you have as much lighting as possible, and reflectors. These can be applied to the bicycle, as well as your helmet and even clothing and shoes (another great tip for pedestrians to keep in mind too, minus the helmet). While explaining traffic laws to your child, you may want to brush up on the rules, signs, and signals here.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a bicycle accident due to the negligence of another driver, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Too Many Bicyclists Die in Florida Each Year—and The Problem is Not New

Do you remember your first bike ride? Most of us have a faint shadow of a memory of the training wheels being removed (finally) and a parent running along beside us. Some of us were successful in that first ride—while some of us wiped out fast and usually got a little scraped up. If you ride a bike at any age, chances are you will have more than one spill. Whether you end up in the grass, on the concrete, or flying head-first over the handlebars, the hope is that you will be wearing protective gear and not experience any serious injury. This could be out of your control, however, if you are at the mercy of a motorist who may be distracted by their smartphone, busy eating food and beverages, engaging with passengers, or fiddling with a GPS calling out directions. Reckless motorists could also be extremely unpredictable if they are drowsy or drunk while behind the wheel.

Florida is particularly hazardous for bicyclists, with news reports pointing out that Tampa Bay—and Pinellas County specifically—is the most dangerous area in the nation for bicycling. Just as with so many major issues regarding traffic incidents, experts have not pinpointed one exact reason for this geographical detail affecting residents and visitors to Florida. Bicyclist fatality rates have been rising since 2010 though for Florida, a state that has far outpaced such issues in other states at 56 percent higher than other states like California or Texas. There was a downturn in fatalities last year, and while infrastructure analysts hope that will continue, they must look at the issues causing deaths.

Infrastructure itself may be the issue in many cases as there is not proper illumination at night on roads or crosswalks. Many bicycle and pedestrian accidents occur at night too, on roadsides in rural areas. A larger population of senior drivers may be contributing to these statistics, as well as the considerable number of tourists who are on the roads year-round. Florida, the ‘Sunshine State,’ is also known for great weather and mild seasons, leading more people to bicycle for twelve months out of the year, taking in warmth, fresh air, and hoping to enjoy all the benefits of getting exercise on two wheels. This could result in exactly the opposite effect however, due to negligent drivers.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a bicycle accident due to the negligence of another driver, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Drinking and Bicycling Can Have Fatal Results

Millions of enthusiasts around the US enjoy riding bicycles, whether taking the healthy route for a daily commute, not to mention one that is more affordable, plus better for the environment in avoiding the use of any fuel except for that of human exertion. Bicycling is an activity that can be immensely appreciated whether riding solo or in a group with family and friends, contributing to good heart and lung health as well as burning enormous amounts of calories—all while building stronger bones and muscles.

We have produced numerous blogs about the priority that should be placed on safety for kids on bicycles, whether traveling in a group or on their way to school, but as an adult bicyclist, remember that you have the same responsibilities in traffic that other adult motorists do. This includes refraining from riding under the influence of drugs or alcohol. And while doing so is generally illegal and dangerous, because bicyclists are so much more vulnerable in traffic, alcohol can not only be the cause of bicycle accidents but allow for results that are further catastrophic—even resulting in fatality.

Ongoing data has shown Florida as first in bicyclist fatalities, and while the numbers may simply be higher due to the good weather in the Sunshine State, extreme caution should be exercised while on the streets and highways which are famous for senior drivers, along with many tourists who may not be familiar with the area and are driving erratically.

“You kind of mush it all together, and it helps us explain as best we can what’s going on out there,” said Pam Fischer, author of a recent report for the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Data shows that alcohol use may play an unfortunate role in bicycle accidents and fatalities in Florida, with a significant number of those involved in crashes exhibiting alcohol levels in their blood at the time of the traffic incidents. Distracted driving (especially texting) continues to be the major cause of accidents in terms of motorist negligence as well. Injuries to bicyclists may include concussions or traumatic brain injuries, spinal injuries or paralysis, broken bones, sprains, and more.

If you or a loved one have been affected by a bicycle accident injury caused by the negligence of others contact Heintz & Becker today. Our attorneys have helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help, and if you cannot come to us, we will come to you.

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Avoiding Fatalities at the Swimming Pool: Know CPR

Swimming is a year-round activity in Florida, enjoyed by all ages. And while many of us enjoy a dip in the ocean, swimming pools are much more accessible—and often situated right in the patio area or in the backyard. Unfortunately, dangers usually accompany recreation in the water too—causing boating accidents, drownings at the beach, and raising the potential for swimming pool fatalities.

Whether you are permanently retired or enjoy your pool as a getaway from the busy life, it is probably often the center of gatherings between family and friends. Pool parties can be one of the greatest ways to kick back on the weekends, celebrate birthdays, and more. There can be a lot of distractions though and supervision may become difficult, with the alcohol flowing for the adults, and events that involve kids becoming chaotic at times. Safety should always be the first consideration, and this starts with following Florida law regarding pools, requiring homeowners to choose from one option, to include a barrier like a fence or wall (at least four feet high), alarms on windows and doors to the swimming area, a pool cover, or latching gates to entrance/exit areas.

In the event of a swimming accident or a potential drowning, it is extremely helpful to know CPR. Even children as young as nine or so can take classes to learn how to save someone if they require resuscitation, and there have been numerous cases where they were able to save lives due to CPR education. CPR is performed with chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing meant to start the heart again after it has failed in a drowning episode or perhaps even a heart attack that was unrelated to the activities at hand. An individual who experienced distress in the water has a much better chance of survival if CPR is administered almost immediately.

It is important to watch kids constantly while they are in the pool, and if you frequent public pools, make sure there is a lifeguard in charge. Swimming classes may also offer some of the best lessons in life that your kids can learn too, but it is important to keep them enrolled year after year until they have developed into fully capable older swimmers.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a swimming pool accident due to the negligence of another party, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Bicyclists Riding Against Traffic More Likely to Be Severely Injured or Killed

Bicyclists abound around the US, but as the population in Florida continues to grow, so do outdoor enthusiasts. Traveling on two wheels is not confined just to enjoying the fresh air and beauty of the natural landscape, however. Commuting on bicycles is becoming more popular—and especially in cities. If you are physically active, or working on being so, bicycling to work often means less time traveling as you can circumvent traffic bottlenecks, accidents, and the inconveniences of rush-hour traffic. It is also much more economical, with absolutely no need for fuel other than your own leg power. Maintenance generally requires little expense, and the start-up cost in purchasing a bike can usually fit any budget.

Whether you are traveling alone or with your family or in a group of friends, however, safety should always come first—and unfortunately, the greatest threat is motorists. Distracted driving is responsible for thousands of deaths each year (and hundreds of thousands of injuries), whether this means bicyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians, or other motorists. Defensive ‘traveling’ is necessary no matter your mode of transportation. If you are riding a bike, it is vital to be seen. Wear bright clothing, ride a brightly colored bike, and apply reflective devices wherever possible. When riding at night, make sure you have proper lighting, as well as devices to make you heard such as a bell or horn.

And although you may have heard conflicting views on traveling against traffic while bicycling (or walking), it is not only illegal in Florida but also considerably more unsafe. A recent study by the Florida Department of Transportation shows that bicyclists traveling on the roads against traffic were involved in more severe crashes, as well as more fatalities. Additional data shows that the following contributed to many bicycle crashes:

  • Poor lighting in city areas
  • Unusual intersection patterns
  • Reckless driving
  • Bicyclists hitting parked cars or opening doors

“Engineering countermeasures, including signal optimization, turn restrictions, and sign and pavement marking improvements, could improve the overall safety situation for bicyclists. Agency-wide education campaigns on the laws pertaining to bicyclists and extensive driver education campaigns that focus on driver compliance with bicyclist right-of-way laws and stricter enforcement could improve bicycle safety,” state FDOT researchers.

If you or a loved one have been affected by a bicycle accident injury caused by the negligence of others contact Heintz & Becker today. Our attorneys have helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help, and if you cannot come to us, we will come to you.

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Beware: Bicyclists Love Florida—But Greater Numbers Mean More Accidents

Bicycling is an activity you may have been enjoying as long as you can remember. Most of us start out as kids, doing the initial routine with training wheels, and then graduating to a more mature bike with the inevitable spills, and bumps and bruises along the way. You may prefer biking alone around Florida, taking respite from a busy life, enjoying fresh air on quiet roads and paths that are especially satisfying when the sun is shining (not too warmly!), the birds are singing, and other interesting wildlife make an appearance here and there as you travel on your way. Others still may enjoy bicycling as a family activity, getting all the children outside, and sometimes even including babies being pulled in small ‘trailers.’ Commuting is also becoming more and more popular on bikes and proving to be not only more economical but much faster in some city areas.

Florida is extremely popular for activities like swimming, walking, hiking a multitude of trails, motorcycling, and bicycling. Unfortunately, all this fun can also have its hazards—and bicycling is no exception. The Sunshine State is particularly dangerous for bicyclists, with recent data stating that Florida bicyclist fatalities are considerably higher than that of other states, with California and Texas emerging next in line. Higher numbers for Florida are thought to be due to a larger population of ageing drivers and visitors who may not be familiar with roads. Florida also has a large population overall, meaning statistically more accidents are to be expected—along with the addition of enticingly good weather year-round.

While many bike safety tips may seem like common sense, all too often they are overlooked, with visibility being one of the most important. Remember to wear brightly colored clothing, but it is also helpful to have reflective material anywhere possible – including on your helmet, shoes, and bike. Lights should be in working order too. Protective gear is vital, beginning with the helmet. And although kids may balk, knee and elbow pads certainly come in handy if there is an accident, preventing cuts, contusions, and possible road rash from those commonly vulnerable areas. Ride with traffic, not against it – and know and follow all traffic signs and signals. If you are riding with smaller children, make sure they have a full education on everything a bicyclist needs to know—especially if they are riding to and from school each day.

If you or a loved one have been affected by a bicycle accident injury caused by the negligence of others contact Heintz & Becker today. Our attorneys have helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help, and if you cannot come to us, we will come to you.

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Defective Toys Could Land Your Child in the ER

Life can be so complicated for the modern family today as both parents often commute back and forth to work, kids need to get to school, afternoon activities commence throughout the week, and vital errands must be run. It can be extremely satisfying to take just a short break or a weekend respite with the kids, and fun shopping for a new toy or two may be in the plans. While it may be difficult to find exactly the right thing to please small children or to occupy them for any length of time, the last thing you may expect is a product defect that is harmful to your daughter, son, grandchild, or other loved one.

Unfortunately, there are far too many products out on the market that have the potential to be harmful. And while it would seem like toys would be a major priority in terms of product testing, far too many of them cause serious injuries (and in some cases even death) to children each year. You may expect or assume that a toy is safe just because everyone is buying it, and they may have been doing so for years, but manufacturers could be facing allegations of injuries or fatalities and are fighting behind the scenes to prevent necessary recalls that may not happen for a long time.

Choking hazards are one of the main sources of injury or death from toys, and especially if you have small children. This usually becomes more of an issue around the holidays too, whether newer toys or some of the tried and true are being heavily marketed, purchased, and used. While small, unattached pieces should be avoided, it is also important to watch for toys with long strings or attachments that could lead to the potential for wrapping around a child’s neck or cut off circulation to a limb or finger. Toy guns and other play shooting devices may cause hazards, along with riding toys or trampolines.

A serious product defect could find you in the ER with your child being treated for a breathing or choking issue, burns, cuts, and more. Fatalities may be caused due to drowning, asphyxiation, trauma, a serious blow to the head, or more. Contact a skilled product defect attorney as soon as possible if your child or a loved one have been hurt or fatally injured by a defective product. It is imperative that a report or complaint is filed regarding the product, so others are not injured too, and you may be due significant damages after such an incident.

If you or your child have been injured by a defective product, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Swimming Pool Liability: Are Your Drains Updated?

Swimming is usually enjoyable for the whole family, and in Florida especially as it is an activity that everyone can enjoy year-round in many cases. Adults usually enjoy swimming for the exercise it affords, offering health benefits to the health and lungs, as well as building muscle strength and burning mega-calories. If you are a parent, you probably also love to center family gatherings around the pool area, reveling in how worn out kids are after taking a long dip.

Unfortunately, fun activities centered around water usually involve the danger of drowning too. That can be hard to believe sometimes, watching everyone have such a wonderful time while eating, drinking, and celebrating togetherness in their off time. Like car accidents in Florida though, drowning incidents just continue to rise too! Children are primarily at risk, along with the elderly, making it vital to follow the safety laws. While enclosures such as fences, alarms, and pool coverings all help prevent drowning, if drains are not newer or have not been retrofitted for safety, swimmers could be trapped when hair or even limbs are sucked in. Newer drains lack the dangerous suction mechanism, and are larger and rounder in shape, as well as more secure when it comes to fastening (always be sure screws are intact and that drains are in good working order, without any cracks). Pumps should only be run using the settings as instructions outline, and the shutoff should be easy to access.

Even with all the proper maintenance in place though, little of that matters if proper safety guidelines are not followed. While there are probably many adults in attendance during birthday pool parties and other celebrations, don’t let your guard down just because kids are used to swimming in the pool or ‘have been around the water forever.’ A tragic swimming pool accident could occur in a matter of moments, which is why there should always be supervision.

If children are going to be growing up in an area where they will be exposed to the water routinely, as well as expected to be in the pool or ocean, enroll them in swimming lessons. Not only are lessons a great way to become skilled at swimming, they can be a fun social activity. All the normal challenges in a swimming area should continue to be overcome as well, as parents and other adults must discourage running, pushing, rough-housing, and any types of swimming games that could cause injury or drowning. Everyone of age should also know CPR.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a swimming pool accident due to the negligence of another driver, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

FDOT Study Examines Bicycle Crash Patterns

If you have never been injured in a bicycling accident, then it may seem like one of the most enjoyable and healthy forms of exercise one could enjoy. After all, what could go wrong as you innocently take in the fresh air and the natural landscape, working your heart and lungs, and burning calories like crazy? Unfortunately, plenty. And this is not usually the bicyclist’s fault. As usual—and as in the case of motorcyclist accidents and pedestrian injuries—motorists are your greatest threat. Florida is evidence of this danger too, listed as one of the top states for bicyclist fatalities.

The state has been working to solve the problem, with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) performing an analysis on bike crashes last year. As far back as 2014, Florida was leading in bicyclist fatalities, and the numbers continue to be concerning each year. In their report, researchers explore causes and patterns of such accidents, along with pinpointing ‘hot spots,’ and ways to prevent crashes. They also create crash modification factors for evaluating to ‘assess safety effects of common engineering treatments on bicycle safety.’

In their analysis, the researchers examined 26,036 crashes occurring between 2011 and 2014, finding that age and sex figured into fatalities, with elderly bicyclists and men more likely to be involved in fatal accidents. Fatalities also occurred more frequently for bicyclists riding at night, for bicyclists riding against the flow of traffic, and for those under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The analysis also includes many other detailed facts and statistics:

“The majority of bicycle crashes occurred on urban roadways; only 1.2% of all crashes that occurred on state roads occurred in rural areas,” states the report. “In terms of crash severity, 16.9% of all bicycle crashes that occurred on rural facilities resulted in fatalities while only 2.5% of those that occurred on urban facilities resulted in fatalities.”

“The average age of bicyclists killed in crashes with motor vehicles was 43 years, while the average age of bicyclists involved in traffic crashes was 33.8 years. Among the different age groups, bicyclists between 45 and 54 years of age experienced the highest fatality rate of 19.76 fatalities per year per million population, and those in 65- to 74-year age group experienced the highest injury rate of 875.43 injuries per year per million population.”

The researchers point out the four main crash types:

  • The driver of a car turns right as a bicyclist is crossing.
  • Cars turn left facing bicyclists.
  • Bicyclists ride out into intersections.
  • Motorists run stop signs.

They also identified other reasons for accidents, to include lack of illumination at night in towns and cities, disregard for traffic laws, U-turns, bicyclists hitting car doors, complex intersections, and more.

As for measures to be taken in preventing further crashes, the team suggests more specific areas for bikes. Along with bike lanes, they suggest bicycle tracks and bicycle boulevards (‘defined as traffic-calmed side streets signed and improved for bicyclists to provide a safer alternative to riding on arterials’). Wider curb lanes, speed humps, lane reductions, and raised medians are suggested, along with more crosswalks and roadway lights.

Citing that bicycle crashes make up 5.6 traffic fatalities but overall only make up 1.9 percent of total accidents, the researchers point out that many bicycling accidents are severe.

“Drivers were found to be at-fault in 45.7% (1,321 of 2,888 bicycle crashes) of the crashes while bicyclists were at-fault in 30.2% (871 of 2,888 bicycle crashes) of the crashes. Both bicyclists and drivers were found to be at-fault in very few crashes (0.8%, 22 of 2,888 bicycle crashes),” states the report.

Both drivers and bicyclists tended to be at fault when not yielding right-of-way, ignoring traffic rules, and driving carelessly.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a bicycling accident due to the negligence of others, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.