6 Common Ways Bicyclists Get Injured or Struck By Cars

Many people want to ride their bikes to work or school.  Here are some things to think about before getting out on the road.

How many people are killed/injured riding bikes?

In 2013, 743 people died in bicycle or motor vehicle crashes.  This means just under 2 people every day of the year in the U.S. This is the highest number of fatalities since 2006, when 772 were killed.  It is also an increase from 682 bicyclist fatalities reported in 2011.  These numbers represent just over 2% of the total number of people killed and injured in traffic crashes in 2012.

The number of estimated bicyclist injuries were 49,000 in 2012 and dropped to 48,000 in 2013.  Injuries have stayed around 50,000 in recent years with 52,000 injuries in 2008, 51,000 in 2009, and 52,000 again in 2010. Research into hospital records shows that only around 10% of bicycle crashes causing injury are ever recorded by the police so the statistics and numbers would probably be higher.

Here are some numbers:

Bicyclist deaths in 2001: 732

Bicyclist deaths in 2013: 743

Reduction in bicyclist deaths between 2001 and 2011: 7.5%

Bicyclist injuries in 2001: 45,000

Bicyclist injuries in 2013: 48,000

Increase in bicyclist injuries between 2001 and 2011: 8.9%

The total cost of bicyclist injury and death is approximately $4 billion dollars per year.


Is bicycling more dangerous than other modes of travel?

Like any form of transportation, there are risks associated with riding a bicycle. Deaths by bicycle are around 2% of all traffic fatalities but only 1% of the population rides a bike.  At this time because of many variables like experience of the rider, alcohol or drug use, and location, we just don’t know how the biker risk compares to other modes.

Is bicycling getting safer?

There has been a 8.9% increase in fatalities from 2011 to 2013.  This doesn’t look good, but without knowing how many people are riding and how far they are riding, there’s no way of knowing whether the drop in crashes is because conditions are actually safer, more people are bicycling, or they’re bicycling in different locations.


Who is getting killed in bicycling crashes?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration put out some numbers and here they are:

The average age of bicyclists killed in crashes with motor vehicles continues to increase, climbing to 44 years old in 2013, up from 39 in 2004, 32 in 1998, and 24 in 1988.

83% of those killed were male.

68% of bicyclist fatalities occurred in urban areas.

22% of bicyclist fatalities occurred between 6 and 8:59 p.m.

20% of bicyclists killed had blood alcohol concentrations of 0.08 g/dL or higher.

In 29% of the crashes, either the driver or the bicyclist had blood alcohol concentrations of 0.08 g/dL or higher.

California (141), Florida (133), and Texas (48) lead the nation in the number of bicyclist fatalities.

Five states, Nebraska, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming, reported no fatalities in 2013.


So, what causes injuries?

Nearly a third of all injuries are caused when bicyclists are struck by cars.

Here are the 6 most common sources of Injury to bicyclists:

1. Hit by a car 29%

2. Fell 17%

3. Roadway or walkway not in good shape 13%

4. Rider not paying attention or error 13%

5. Crashed 7%

6. Dog ran out in front of bicycle 4%

There are many sources to find out about bicycle data:

* National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

* NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts

* Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

* Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)

There are several agencies that have keep data on walking and biking activity.  If you are looking for data, you may want to try these:

* Police Department

* Hospital or Emergency Rooms

* Local Department of Transportation

* Department of Public health

** I would check with the police department first, they may be able to steer you in other areas that may be helpful for you.

Bicyclists, be careful out there!