Of the motor vehicle accidents occurring in the United States each year, approximately 2% result in the death of a bicyclist. In most of these deaths, the head received the brunt of the injuries. This highlights how vital it is for cyclists to wear protective helmets at all times. It is estimated that wearing a helmet reduces the likelihood of a head injury by 50%, and the odds of suffering an injury to the head, neck or face could be reduced by 33%. Twenty-one states in the country, plus the District of Columbia have enacted helmet use laws that specifically apply to young cyclists, however none of these helmet laws apply to all riders.
A few states have local ordinances requiring some, if not all cyclists to wear helmets. The likelihood of a cyclist wearing a helmet increases 4 times once a helmet law starts being enforced than before the law is enacted. Due to the seriousness of head injuries, wearing a helmet is vital for cyclists of all ages, not just the younger ones. Facts show that 86% of cyclists deaths happen to people 20 years of age and older. Over the last few years, only 17% of fatally injured cyclists were wearing a helmet.
The U.S. Department of Transportation uses a Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) that looks at data from fatal accidents to determine the cause of death. These are the facts:
There has been a 28% decrease in the deaths of cyclists since 1975. In 2014 there were 720 cyclists killed in crashes involving motor vehicles, which was a 4% decrease from those killed in 2013. Of these, 86% were 20 years of age and older. Since 1975 there has been an 88% decline in the deaths of cyclists under 20 years of age, whereas the deaths of bicyclists 20 years of age and older have almost tripled.
Each year since 1975, a lot more male bicyclists than female ones were killed in crashes involving motor vehicles. The decline in the number of deaths since 1975 of female cyclists was 55%, which was a larger decline than occurred among male cyclists, which was just 23%.
Of the cyclists killed in 2014, 60% did not have a helmet on. Helmet use was not known for 24% of the victims. Of the cyclists killed in 2014 that were 16 years of age and older, 21% had a blood alcohol level that was at 0.08% or higher.
Time of Year Fatalities Occurred
In 2014 the number of fatal bicycle accidents peaked in August, September and October, with 11% each. The number was lowest in February, just 5%. It only makes sense because more people ride their bicycles when the weather is temperate and dry.
The peak hours were from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., accounting for 19% of the deaths. Because visibility is reduced during those hours, it only makes sense that the probability of a crash occurring between a vehicle and a bicyclist would be higher.
What Areas Have More Crashes Occurring
In 2014 the vast majority (68%) of bicyclist deaths occurred in urban areas, whereas in 1975 there were about equal numbers of bicyclist deaths in urban vs. rural areas. Of all cyclist deaths occurring in 2014, 35% happened at intersections.
Of the cyclist deaths occurring in 2014, 62% happened on major roads, rather than on freeways and interstate highways, whereas 31% happened on minor roads. The deaths occurring on minor roads tended to be among bicyclists who were younger than 20 (50%), as compared to the deaths of cyclists older than 20 (28%).
The attorneys at O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley work with medical professionals, vocational rehabilitation experts, and financial planners to determine all of the effects of serious injuries. We have the skill and experience to ensure that individuals and their families receive the financial support necessary to help them move forward with their lives. Contact Us Now for a free consultation with a personal injury attorney.
Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP