Bicycle Crashes in North Carolina Could Be Slashed by Lasers

Technological advances involving lasers have been applied to everything from eye surgery to military strikes to accurate lunar measurements.
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The latest invention is a bit closer to the ground, and safety advocates are hoping it could serve to significantly reduce bicycle crash injuries in Greensboro and beyond.

It’s called “Blaze,” and it was invented by a British physics graduate student who recognized that the greatest problems for bicyclists include being sideswiped by vehicles or being struck because they were in a blind spot where a vehicle turned into a cyclist’s path.

In looking for a way to solve this issue, the student created a detachable lamp that can project a laser image of a bicycle on the ground, some 15 to 20 feet in front of the cyclist. The device is powered by LED lights that are also capable of projecting the laser image onto the road.

By having the image displayed brightly on the road in front of them, drivers may quickly be alerted to a cyclist ahead – and may take the necessary precautions.

Although the unveiling occurred on the other side of the Atlantic, we expect such technologies won’t take long to spread here in the U.S., particularly given the uptick in cycling popularity, both in urban and suburban communities.

According to Governing.com, the trend of biking to work has increased exponentially in America since 2006.

In Charlotte, for example, the number of bicycle commuters went from 0.04 percent in 2006 to 0.09 percent in 2011 – a 125 percent increase. In Durham, the percentage of bicycle commuters spiked from 0.44 percent in 2006 to 1.16 percent in 2011 – an increase of 163 percent. And in Raleigh, the percentage of bicycle commuters went from 0.29 percent in 2006 to 0.43 percent in 2011, an increase of nearly 50 percent.

Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association reveal that some 25 bicyclists were killed in North Carolina in 2011 (15 in South Carolina) and those figures are expected to continue to grow – unless technologies like Blaze can help us get a handle on it.

In addition to the laser technology, other efforts across the globe are working to tackle this issue. In San Francisco, for example, a prototype light system called “Revolights” are mounted to the cyclist’s wheels. They not only improve visibility for the cyclist, they help others to see the bicycle more clearly from the front, back and side. Other ideas include “smart handle bars,” which would be fitted with LED lights that would adjust to the cyclist’s speed and environment. Another invention includes a glow-in-the-dark bicycle frame.

While safety advocates applaud these efforts, they say nothing should replace the vigilance of both bicyclists and drivers, who are all encouraged to use the utmost caution in avoiding the road if you are drowsy, drunk or distracted.

Contact our Greensboro personal injury lawyers at Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
The laser light that could cut cyclist deaths, Sept. 13, 2013, By Arion McNicoll and Stefani Blendis, CNN

More Blog Entries:
Bicyclists Falling Victim to Irresponsible Drivers, April 29, 2013, Greensboro Bicycle Accident Lawyer Blog

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