- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 4, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - More Louisiana bicycle riders died in crashes in 2012 than in any year in the preceding decade.

The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission says 24 bicycle riders died that year, even as the number of people who died in motor vehicle crashes declined.

Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the safety commission, says bike deaths swing widely from year to year, although officials aren’t sure why.

“Fatal crashes involving bicycle riders can vary greatly from year to year,” said LeBlanc. “We’re not certain of why these swings occur, but we do know that many of the crashes between bike riders and motor vehicles could be avoided.”

The commission says bicyclists are more likely crash fatally in the evening, and that a number of fatalities involve alcohol.

Five crashes killed children 15 or younger.

The commission urges cyclists to use helmets, wear bright clothing and use lights and reflectors at night. It also recommends cyclists use hand signals for stops and turns and ride far to the right.

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