Roadway improvements have been shown to reduce crashes.
Each year about 2 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths are bicyclists. In a majority of bicyclist deaths, the most serious injuries are to the head, highlighting the importance of wearing a bicycle helmet.
Sacks, J.J.; Holmgreen, P.; Smith, S.M.; and Sosin, D.M. 1991. Bicycle-associated head injuries and deaths in the United States from 1984 through 1988. How many are preventable? Journal of the American Medical Association 266(21):3016-8.
Helmet use has been estimated to reduce the odds of head injury by 50 percent, and the odds of head, face, or neck injury by 33 percent.
Elvik, R. 2013. Corrigendum to: "Publication bias and time-trend bias in meta-analysis of bicycle helmet efficacy: A re-analysis of Attewell, Glase and McFadden, 2001". Accident Analysis and Prevention 60:245-53.
Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have helmet use laws applying to young bicyclists; none of these laws applies to all riders. Local ordinances in a few states require some or all bicyclists to wear helmets. The odds that a bicyclist will wear a helmet are 4 times higher after a helmet law is enacted than before a law is passed.
Karkhaneh, M.; Kalenga, J-C.; Hagel, B.E.; and Rowe, B.H. 2006. Effectiveness of bicycle helmet legislation to increase helmet use: a systematic review. Injury Prevention 12:76-82.
Helmets are important for riders of all ages, not just young bicyclists. Eighty-eight percent of bicyclist deaths are persons ages 20 and older. During the past few years, no more than 17 percent of fatally injured bicyclists were wearing helmets.
The following facts are based on analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).
Posted November 2016.
A total of 817 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles in 2015. This represents a 13 percent increase from 2014 and the highest number of bicyclist deaths since 1995. Bicyclist deaths have decreased 19 percent since 1975. In 2015, 88 percent of bicyclist deaths were those ages 20 and older. Deaths among bicyclists younger than 20 have declined 88 percent since 1975, while deaths among bicyclists 20 and older have more than tripled. In every year since 1975, many more male than female bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles. The decline since 1975 among female bicyclists (34 percent) was larger than the decline among male bicyclists (15 percent).
Fifty-four percent of bicyclists killed in 2015 were not wearing helmets. Helmet use was unknown for 29 percent.
Among bicyclists ages 16 and older who were killed in 2015, 23 percent had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) at or above 0.08 percent.
Bicyclist deaths in 2015 were highest during July (12 percent) and lowest during March (5 percent).
Bicyclist deaths in 2015 peaked during the hours from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (24 percent).
In 2015, 70 percent of bicyclists were killed in urban areas. Bicyclist deaths occurred about equally in rural and urban areas in 1975.
Thirty-five percent of bicyclist deaths in 2015 occurred at intersections.
Fifty-four percent of bicyclist deaths in 2015 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways, and 29 percent occurred on minor roads. Deaths of bicyclists younger than 20 were more likely to occur on minor roads compared with deaths of bicyclists ages 20 and older (35 percent vs. 28 percent).
©1996-2016, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute | www.iihs.org
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