Bicyclists | 2005

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).

Trends

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

Bicyclist deaths by gender, 1975-2005
YearMaleFemaleTotal*
Num%Num%Num
197582082183181,003
19767518216318914
19777307919221922
19787148017820892
19797598117319932
19807828118319965
19817488018119936
19827208314417864
19837008413016830
19846848215318838
19857328413716869
19867898514015929
19878268811412940
19887738612814901
19896968512615822
19907328612114853
19917158612114836
1992627879013717
19937028710413806
19946878610914796
19956998412815828
19966548610714761
1997712889912811
1998658879913757
1999656879413750
2000613897611689
2001657907210729
2002590897311663
2003554887111626
2004626879613722
2005683879712782
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Eighty-six percent of bicyclists killed in 2005 reportedly weren't wearing helmets.

Bicyclist deaths by helmet use, 1994-2005
YearNo helmet useHelmet useTotal*
Num%Num%Num
199477697192796
199578395344828
199673196274761
199778597233811
199874198162757
199969893426750
200062290507689
200161684608729
200258989548663
200353585589626
2004602838712722
2005673867610782
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

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.

Estimated number and percent of fatally injured bicyclists with BACs ≥ 0.08 percent, 1982-2005
YearBicyclists killedEstimated deaths with BACs ≥ 0.08
NumNum%
198286415918
198383012916
198483812315
198586910512
198692913014
198794014015
198890114015
198982212315
199085314317
199183615719
199271711516
199380614618
199479613817
199582816920
199676114018
199781115019
199875715921
199975017423
200068915723
200172917324
200266315423
200362614523
200472214820
200578218123

When they died

Bicyclist deaths in 2005 occurred most often in June and October and between the hours of 6pm and 9pm.

Distribution of bicyclist deaths by month, 2005
MonthDeaths%
January375
February425
March435
April628
May7810
June9212
July668
August8611
September8210
October9512
November567
December435
Total782100
Distribution of bicyclist deaths by time of day, 2005
Time of dayDeaths%
Midnight-3am537
3am-6am324
6am-9am658
9am-noon8511
Noon-3pm8911
3pm-6pm15620
6pm-9pm18023
9pm-midnight11415
Total*782100
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Age and gender

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).

Percent of bicyclist deaths by age, 1975-2005
Year< 16≥ 16Total*
Num%Num%Num
197567567323321,003
19766056630633914
19776136630633922
19785706432036892
19795525937340932
19805295543145965
19814795143847936
19824134844652864
19834345239247830
19844104941550838
19854244943550869
19864354748552929
19874434749453940
19883934450256901
19893714544955822
19902923455165853
19913003653063836
19922974141858717
19933033850062806
19942943749562796
19952783454265828
19962483350767761
19972483156069811
19982293052669757
19992112853772750
20001912849672689
20011552157078729
20021532350376663
20031432348177626
20041492156979722
20051421863281782
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

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

Bicyclist deaths per million people by age and gender, 2005
AgeMalesFemalesTotal*
PopulationDeathsRatePopulationDeathsRatePopulationDeathsRate
0-818,334,821231.317,521,347110.635,856,168340.9
9-128,344,706384.67,948,52170.916,293,227452.8
13-156,625,942548.16,311,37991.412,937,321634.9
16-198,541,332344.08,111,20130.416,652,533372.2
20-2410,856,936454.110,180,92460.621,037,860512.4
25-2910,268,169323.19,797,53360.620,065,702381.9
30-3410,153,091303.09,924,11980.820,077,210381.9
35-3910,563,375565.310,438,57990.921,001,954653.1
40-4411,376,664766.711,483,84690.822,860,510853.7
45-4911,106,575817.311,377,948100.922,484,523914.0
50-549,788,780626.310,208,96230.319,997,742653.3
55-598,425,070495.88,928,60840.417,353,678533.1
60-646,201,648243.96,800,21540.613,001,863282.2
65-694,721,791255.35,409,65361.110,131,444313.1
≥ 7010,690,846484.515,967,82320.126,658,669501.9
Total*145,999,7466774.6150,410,658970.6296,410,4047822.6
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Where they died

More bicyclists were killed in urban areas than in rural areas in 2005 (66 percent compared with 30 percent).

Bicyclist deaths by land use, 1975-2005
YearUrbanRuralTotal*
Num%Num%Num
197549750506501,003
19764705144449914
19775435937541922
19785326035039892
19795415836739932
19805635839040965
19815285637140936
19824905736442864
19835026032439830
19844915934641838
19855155935341869
19865676136139929
19875325740643940
19885255837442901
19895206330237822
19905236133039853
19915396429736836
19924486226537717
19934916131339806
19944776031840796
19955406528434828
19964946526535761
19975196428936811
19984796327737757
19994846526635750
20004226125136689
20014786625134729
20024506821132663
20034356918930626
20044776624234722
20055206623830782
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Thirty-four percent of bicyclist deaths in 2005 occurred at intersections.

Bicyclist deaths by junction type, 1975-2005
YearIntersectionNon-intersectionTotal*
Num%Num%Num
197526326734731,003
19762152469976914
19772382668474922
19782522864072892
19792843064769932
19802492671574965
19812452668473936
19822382862672864
19832232760773830
19842392959971838
19852512961871869
19862763065270929
19872662867472940
19882693063270901
19892563156669822
19902452960671853
19912613157569836
19922433447366717
19932593254568806
19942453155169796
19952763354966828
19962323052569761
19972643354467811
19982273052970757
19992473350067750
20002263346167689
20012283149968729
20022343542965663
20032083341867626
20042533546765722
20052673451366782
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Road types

Fifty-nine percent of bicyclist deaths in 2005 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways, and 34 percent occurred on minor roads.

Total bicyclist deaths on roads by road type, 1987-2005
YearInterstates and freewaysMajor roadsMinor roadsAll road types*
Num%Num%Num%Num
19873845405735838940
19883645025635640901
19894454555532039822
19906074805631337853
19914454765731638836
19925583985624935717
19936684355429336806
19946784235330238796
19956684545530136828
19964054435826635761
19972834765928936811
19983144536026435757
19992744385827637750
20001834186121531689
20013144406025335729
20022543835825138663
20032243826121635626
20042034556322731722
20053044645926234782
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

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).

Bicyclist deaths by age and road type, 1987-2005
YearChild bicyclist deaths (< 16)Adult bicyclist deaths (≥ 16)
Interstates and freewaysMajor roadsMinor roadsAll road types*Interstates and freewaysMajor roadsMinor roadsAll road types*
Number%Number%Number%NumberNumber%Number%Number%Number
198712320446225514432553346813327494
19885117144212543933063286514228502
19898215843202543713682966611726449
199031134461555329255103416215528551
19915213645159533003973346315730530
199293134451474929745112636310224418
1993114134441545130354112996013928500
199472119401665629458123026113327495
1995124123441435127852103296115428542
19963111145132532483673316513026507
19974211245126512482343636516229560
19985210546118522292653476614528526
1999318038125592112443576615028537
200011874686451911733306712826496
200164754871461552543616318232570
200211654284551532453126216633503
200311614381571432043206713528481
200432644379531491733886814726569
200500664675531423053966318329632
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

References