Bicycle accidents make up just 2 percent of motor vehicle accident fatalities each year in the United States, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve attention from safety officials. This is especially true since fatal bicycle accidents appear to be on the rise according to a newly-released report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).
The GHSA’s report indicates that bicycle fatalities increased by 16 percent from 2010 to 2012 even though motor vehicle fatalities overall increased by just 1 percent. The authors of the report also found the increase in fatal bicycle accidents involving men over the age of 20 to be particularly significant. For example, adult males made up 74 percent of the bicyclists killed in 2012.
Additionally, bicycle accidents are becoming increasingly common in urban areas where bicycles and motor vehicles interact heavily. A total of 69 percent of fatal bicycle accidents took place in urban areas in 2012 while that figure was just 50 percent in 1975. An increase in bicycling commuters could be contributing to the phenomenon, the report stated.
One thing that has remained the same regarding bicycle fatalities over the past few decades is that lack of helmets and alcohol impairment both contribute to bicyclist deaths. At least two-thirds of bicyclists who were killed in 2012 were not wearing helmets and 28 percent of riders over the age of 16 who were killed had a blood alcohol level of more than .08, the legal limit to drive.
Even though bicyclists have the power to wear a helmet and avoid riding while impaired, in many cases there is nothing the bicyclist can do to avoid being hit by a negligent motor vehicle driver. In our next post, we will discuss the legal action bicyclists or their families can take after serious accidents involving negligent drivers.
Source: Governors Highway Safety Association, “Bicyclist Fatalities a Growing Problem for Key Groups,” Oct. 27, 2014