New Report Shows Bicyclist Fatalities Continue to Rise, and Why

Many years ago, it was primarily children who rode bicycles, and most of those killed in bike crashes were kids. But in the past 30 years, bike riding has become more of an adult activity: biking for fitness, as a daily commute to and from work, and running errands close to home.  According to a recently released report, the average age of cyclists killed in collisions in 2015 was 45, with 85 percent of those victims being adult males. The report, under the auspices of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and funded by a grant from State Farm Insurance, also revealed that the rise in fatal bike accidents of 12.2 percent in 2015 to 818 fatalities outpaced that same year’s overall increase in traffic fatalities. The connective thread in many of these crashes is that motorists often fail to see the bicyclist, while on the other hand, the bicyclist expects the driver to give way, only to find out too late that a crash has become unavoidable. The lesson from this unifying theme is the need for all people (cyclists and motorists) to pay attention to their surroundings whenever they’re on the road. The report also identified alcohol as a factor in 37 percent of fatal bike crashes, with drivers doing the drinking in 15 percent of the cases and bike riders drinking in 22 percent; though that cumulative number is slightly lower than the 38 percent which was reported 10 years ago. Other highlights of the study included:

  • An estimated 45,000 cyclists were injured in crashes in 2015.
  • The majority of fatal bike crashes – seven out of tenoccurred on roadways rather than at intersections.
  • Distracted driving caused 76 of the 818 total cyclist deaths in 2015.
  • More than half of the cyclists who were killed weren’t wearing a helmet.
  • Bike fatalities were evenly split between those riding in daylight and those riding after dark. Only 20 percent of bike rides take place after sunset, however, suggesting from a statistical perspective that it’s four times more dangerous to ride your bike after sundown than during daylight hours.
  • A third of those who were surveyed said they had biked in the past year, but the number of children biking to school has dropped to an almost miniscule number of 2.2 percent from a high of 50 percent in 1969.
Because bicycle riders are extremely vulnerable on roads filled with much heavier vehicles that are traveling much faster, the report recommended more marked – and clearly defined –  bike lanes to segregate riders from cars on shared roads, bike boxes at traffic signals that give riders a head start when a light turns green, and traffic signals that provide an advanced green signal specifically designated for cyclists. “When we bike, we have as much right to the road as when we drive,” said Vicki Harper, spokeswoman for State Farm. “Unfortunately, when bikes and cars collide, (because they aren’t as protected as vehicle occupants) cyclists are much more susceptible to serious injury or death.” If you have suffered an injury and want to explore your legal options, call Billy Johnson. Contact us today at 606-437-4488, or fill out this online form to learn how we can help you. Your consultation is free, and we earn no fee unless we win your case.

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