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12/5/2013 - Better railroad crossing signs for bicyclists

In 2011, nearly 700 cyclists were killed after being hit by a car.

While the weather outside currently may not be ideal for bicycling, if officials put in place recent recommendations made by researchers, the roadways may be safer for cyclists to navigate by the time the weather warms up.

According to recent analysis from experts at the University of Illinois at Chicago, pedestrian and bicycling accidents would likely diminish substantially if local government leaders and law enforcements made better point to highlight road hazards for bicyclists.

P.S. Sriraj, director of UIC's Metropolitan Transportation Support Initiative, acknowledged that there have been fewer vehicle collisions at railroad crossings, but the same improvements haven't been seen with those who are on the road for other reasons.

"Pedestrian and bicycle fatalities at highway-rail and pathway-rail crossings have remained constant over the past 10 years, in contrast to a marked decrease in vehicle collisions with trains," said Sriraj. "Education and enforcement would convince pedestrians and cyclists that it is both dangerous and illegal to cross railroad tracks while signals are activated, or to cross anywhere but at designated crossings."

Researchers recommended that railroad crossings be more consistently outfitted with cautions and warnings that grab people's attention more than simple signs saying not to cross, such as audible tones, verbal messages, vibrating surfaces and flashing lights. The study's authors acknowledged that these warning systems were used, but not to a sufficient degree or level of consistency.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths occur among bicyclists each year. In 2011, the latest year for which data is available, nearly 700 cyclists were killed after being hit by a car – and most of the incidents that occurred resulted in injury.

Whether the individual riding a bicycle or the person behind the wheel, it's important to always be aware of your surroundings, to help reduce the chances of an accident or auto insurance claim to occur.

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