Bicyclists | 2014

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-six 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 February 2016.

Trends

A total of 720 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles in 2014, a 4 percent decrease from 2013. Bicyclist deaths have decreased 28 percent since 1975. In 2014, 86 percent of bicylist 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 nearly 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 (55 percent) was larger than the decline among male bicyclists (23 percent). 

Bicyclist deaths by age and gender, 1975-2014
Year<20 years ≥20 yearsTotal*
Males FemalesMales Females
Number%Number%Number%Number%Number%
1975 638 64 148 15 180 18 32 3 1,003 100
1976 568 62 130 14 180 20 33 4 914 100
1977 543 59 159 17 184 20 33 4 922 100
1978 531 60 140 16 182 20 37 4 892 100
1979 534 57 130 14 219 23 42 5 932 100
1980 511 53 132 14 268 28 49 5 965 100
1981 477 51 127 14 260 28 53 6 936 100
1982 428 50 91 11 288 33 52 6 864 100
1983 463 56 85 10 233 28 45 5 830 100
1984 405 48 98 12 268 32 53 6 838 100
1985 435 50 86 10 288 33 50 6 869 100
1986 459 49 85 9 322 35 54 6 929 100
1987 470 50 77 8 353 38 37 4 940 100
1988 415 46 75 8 353 39 52 6 901 100
1989 374 45 75 9 320 39 51 6 822 100
1990 319 37 56 7 403 47 65 8 853 100
1991 290 35 66 8 419 50 55 7 836 100
1992 290 40 51 7 335 47 39 5 717 100
1993 304 38 58 7 395 49 46 6 806 100
1994 293 37 61 8 387 49 48 6 796 100
1995 263 32 63 8 430 52 64 8 828 100
1996 246 32 52 7 402 53 55 7 761 100
1997 271 33 48 6 438 54 51 6 811 100
1998 235 31 41 5 421 56 58 8 757 100
1999 229 31 44 6 425 57 50 7 750 100
2000 201 29 30 4 410 60 46 7 689 100
2001 174 24 31 4 479 66 41 6 729 100
2002 157 24 32 5 426 64 41 6 663 100
2003 159 25 29 5 394 63 42 7 626 100
2004 144 20 44 6 478 66 52 7 722 100
2005 149 19 30 4 532 68 67 9 784 100
2006 131 17 23 3 539 70 71 9 769 100
2007 120 17 25 4 489 70 58 8 699 100
2008 111 16 24 3 509 71 68 9 716 100
2009 95 15 23 4 454 72 56 9 628 100
2010 81 13 18 3 452 73 66 11 621 100
2011 81 12 23 3 497 73 76 11 680 100
2012 100 14 17 2 535 73 72 10 730 100
2013 97 13 12 2 546 73 87 12 747 100
2014 81 11 13 2 551 77 68 9 720 100

Sixty percent of bicyclists killed in 2014 were not wearing helmets. Helmet use was unknown for 24 percent. 

Bicyclist deaths by helmet use, 2010-2014
YearNo helmet useHelmet use Unknown Total
Number%Number%Number%Number%
2010 429 69 94 15 98 16 621 100
2011 450 66 100 15 130 19 680 100
2012 469 64 123 17 138 19 730 100
2013 464 62 127 17 156 21 747 100
2014 429 60 118 16 173 24 720 100

Among bicyclists ages 16 and older who were killed in 2014, 21 percent had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) at or above 0.08 percent. 

Estimated number and percent of fatally injured bicyclists age 16 and older with BACs ≥ 0.08 percent, 1982-2014
YearBicyclists killedEstimated bicyclists killed with BACs ≥ 0.08
NumberNumber%
1982 446 124 28
1983 392 108 28
1984 415 100 24
1985 435 89 20
1986 485 112 23
1987 494 124 25
1988 502 126 25
1989 449 115 26
1990 551 131 24
1991 530 148 28
1992 418 108 26
1993 500 134 27
1994 495 129 26
1995 542 162 30
1996 507 130 26
1997 560 144 26
1998 526 152 29
1999 537 168 31
2000 496 152 31
2001 570 166 29
2002 503 146 29
2003 481 139 29
2004 569 141 25
2005 636 178 28
2006 653 182 28
2007 586 155 26
2008 618 155 25
2009 543 149 27
2010 552 128 23
2011 613 151 25
2012 662 170 26
2013 684 143 21
2014 653 138 21

When they died

Bicyclist deaths in 2014 were highest during the months of August, September, and October (11 percent each) and lowest during February (5 percent).

Distribution of bicyclist deaths by month, 2014
MonthDeaths%
January 46 6
February 39 5
March 43 6
April 50 7
May 69 10
June 62 9
July 74 10
August 79 11
September 78 11
October 77 11
November 57 8
December 46 6
Total 720 100

Bicyclist deaths in 2014 peaked during the hours from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (19 percent).

Distribution of bicyclist deaths by time of day, 2014
Time of dayDeaths%
Midnight - 3 a.m. 48 7
3 a.m. - 6 a.m. 42 6
6 a.m. - 9 a.m. 88 12
9 a.m. - noon 85 12
Noon - 3 p.m. 75 10
3 p.m. - 6 p.m. 120 17
6 p.m. - 9 p.m. 140 19
9 p.m. - midnight 119 17
Total* 720 100

Where they died

In 2014, 68 percent of bicyclists were killed in urban areas. Bicyclist deaths occurred about equally in rural and urban areas in 1975.

Bicyclist deaths by land use, 1975-2014
YearUrban Rural Total*
Number%Number%Number%
1975 497 50 506 50 1,003 100
1976 470 51 444 49 914 100
1977 543 59 375 41 922 100
1978 532 60 350 39 892 100
1979 541 58 367 39 932 100
1980 563 58 390 40 965 100
1981 528 56 371 40 936 100
1982 490 57 364 42 864 100
1983 502 60 324 39 830 100
1984 491 59 346 41 838 100
1985 515 59 353 41 869 100
1986 567 61 361 39 929 100
1987 532 57 406 43 940 100
1988 525 58 374 42 901 100
1989 520 63 302 37 822 100
1990 523 61 330 39 853 100
1991 539 64 297 36 836 100
1992 448 62 265 37 717 100
1993 491 61 313 39 806 100
1994 477 60 318 40 796 100
1995 540 65 284 34 828 100
1996 494 65 265 35 761 100
1997 519 64 289 36 811 100
1998 479 63 277 37 757 100
1999 484 65 266 35 750 100
2000 422 61 251 36 689 100
2001 478 66 251 34 729 100
2002 450 68 211 32 663 100
2003 435 69 189 30 626 100
2004 477 66 242 34 722 100
2005 539 69 243 31 784 100
2006 555 72 209 27 769 100
2007 500 72 197 28 699 100
2008 491 69 222 31 716 100
2009 436 69 191 30 628 100
2010 444 71 174 28 621 100
2011 468 69 208 31 680 100
2012 503 69 225 31 730 100
2013 505 68 242 32 747 100
2014 490 68 200 28 720 100

Thirty-five percent of bicyclist deaths in 2014 occurred at intersections.

Bicyclist deaths by junction type, 2014
Number%
Intersection 252 35
Non-intersection 468 65
Total* 720 100

Sixty-two percent of bicyclist deaths in 2014 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways, and 31 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 (50 percent vs. 28 percent).

Bicyclist deaths by age group and road type, 2014
Road type< 20 years ≥20 yearsAll ages*
Number%Number%Number%
Interstates and freeways 3 3 16 3 19 3
Other major roads 35 37 403 65 443 62
Minor roads 47 50 173 28 222 31
All road types* 94 100 619 100 720 100

References