Bicycle Deaths: It’s No Longer Mostly Children
More than 40 years ago in 1975, over three-fourths—78 percent—of all bicycle traffic deaths happened to those aged 20 and under. But by 2015, the average age of a cyclist who died while riding their bike was 45, an enormous change. Adult cyclist deaths now comprise 88 percent of all bicycle fatalities, with the number of deaths going up by an average of 55 a year.
If you are one of the many adults who ride their bicycle to commute or run errands, for exercise, or simply for fun, you’ll want to know about the study that was funded by State Farm Insurance and carried out by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).
The GHSA Report’s Findings
The incidence of cyclists getting hurt is rising along with fatalities. In 2015, an estimated 45,000 bike riders suffered injuries. But this number is considered lower than the likely actual number, because accidents involving motor vehicles and bicycles are often not reported to the police unless injuries are severe.
Cyclists can be injured or killed in many ways on the road, especially when they do not have dedicated lanes that are separated from the flow of motor vehicles. For example, the drivers of parked cars who open their doors without checking for those on bikes can cause accidents, as do drivers who turn either right or left into bike riders and drivers who run into cyclists from behind.
Some of the GHSA’s specific findings include the following:
• In 2015, 818 of those on bicycles died in crashes. Men made up 85 percent of the fatalities when motor vehicles were involved.
• Distracted drivers caused 76 out of the 818 cyclist deaths.
• More than half of those riding bicycles who died were not wearing helmets.
• Alcohol played a part in 37 percent of fatal bike crashes. In 12 percent of the cases, it was the driver who was under the influence, but in 22 percent, it was the cyclist.
• Almost three-fourths—72 percent—of bike crashes did not occur at intersections, but on the open road.
• You are much more likely to die if you cycle at night. While only 20 percent of bike riding occurred at night, 47 percent of fatalities happened then.
• Kids cycling to school are rare these days. Almost half of kids rode their bikes to school in 1969. By 2015, that figure had dropped to 2.2 percent.
• One-third of people surveyed said they had ridden a bike sometime during the past year.
The report also listed 30 steps that cities, towns, and state highway safety officials can take to improve safety for cyclists. Suggestions range from adding dedicated bike lanes separated from moving and parked cars, to special green lights for cyclists, to giving riders a head-start at intersections by using “bike boxes.”
Riding with Safety in Mind
Want some tips on how you can improve your chances on the road? Here are some ways you can cycle more safely:
• Always obey traffic regulations; they’re not just for motor vehicles.
• Ride with the flow of traffic, not against it.
• Don’t use the sidewalk. If you do, it will be more difficult for drivers to see you at intersections.
• Try to make eye contact with those behind the wheel. That way you know drivers have seen you.
• Remember, motor vehicles cannot maneuver as quickly as bicycles. Avoid sudden, unpredictable moves.
• Bright and reflective clothing, along with bike reflectors, are always a good idea, especially when daylight is limited or nonexistent.
• Keep at least one of your hands on the handlebars.
• Maintain your bike well so that it doesn’t fail and cause an accident.
• Use hand signals for turns.
• Don’t drink and cycle!
• Always wear a helmet that fits and that is approved for cyclists.
If you enjoy riding a bike, please do what you can to stay out of harm’s way on the roads.
Trusted Advisors.Proven Advocates.
We at McNeely Stephenson know that bicycle accident cases can mean complex legal claims. Such claims require thorough investigation and demand aggressive litigation to secure the best possible outcome for the plaintiff. While monetary compensation can never undo the damage done as the result of an accident, a financial recovery can ease the financial burdens caused by overwhelming medical bills, loss of income, and disability. If you lost a loved one in a bicycle accident, we will help you seek justice through a wrongful death action.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a bicycle accident in the Indianapolis area, we suggest you talk with accident and personal injury lawyer Mike Stephenson. With more than three decades of experience, substantial financial resources to commit to your case, and a commitment to the highest standards of client care, you can count on Mike. Contact him today by calling 1-317-825-5200 for a free consultation, or use our online contact form.