Roadway improvements have been shown to reduce crashes.
Two percent of motor vehicle-related deaths are bicyclists. The most serious injuries among a majority of those killed are to the head, highlighting the importance of wearing a bicycle helmet. Helmet use has been estimated to reduce head injury risk by 85 percent.
Thompson, R.S.; Rivara, F.P.; and Thompson, D.C. 1989. A case-control study of the effectiveness of bicycle safety helmets. New England Journal of Medicine 320:1361-67.
Twenty states and the District of Columbia have helmet 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. A nationwide phone survey estimated that state helmet use laws increase by 18 percent the probability that a rider will wear a helmet.
Rodgers, G.B. 2002. Effects of state helmet laws on bicycle helmet use by children and adolescents. Injury Prevention 8:42-46.
Helmets are important for riders of all ages, especially because more than 80 percent of bicyclist deaths are persons 16 and older.
The following facts are based on analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).
A total of 782 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles in 2005. This is down 22 percent since 1975 but 25 percent more than in 2003.
Bicyclist deaths by gender, 1975-2005
Eighty-six percent of bicyclists killed in 2005 reportedly weren't wearing helmets.
Twenty-three percent of bicyclists killed in 2005 had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) at or above 0.08 percent. This is 26 percent higher than in 1982.
Bicyclist deaths in 2005 occurred most often in June and October and between the hours of 6pm and 9pm.
Deaths among bicyclists younger than 16 have gone down dramatically since 1975 (79 percent), while deaths among bicyclists 16 and older have increased dramatically (96 percent).
About 7 times as many bicyclist deaths in 2005 were males compared with females. At every age more male than female bicyclists were killed and the rates of bicyclist deaths per million people were higher for males than females. The highest rate of bicyclist deaths per million people occurred for 13-15-year-old males.
Bicyclist deaths per million people by age and gender, 2005
More bicyclists were killed in urban areas than in rural areas in 2005 (66 percent compared with 30 percent).
Thirty-four percent of bicyclist deaths in 2005 occurred at intersections.
Fifty-nine percent of bicyclist deaths in 2005 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways, and 34 percent occurred on minor roads.
Forty-six percent of bicyclist deaths among children (younger than 16) and 63 percent among people 16 and older in 2005 occurred on major roads. Child bicyclists were more likely than older bicyclists to have been killed on minor roads (53 percent compared with 29 percent).
©1996-2013, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute | www.iihs.org
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