Bicyclists | 2006

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-one 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 85 percent of bicycle 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 770 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles in 2006. Bicyclist deaths were down 23 percent since 1975 but 23 percent more than in 2003. The decline among female bicyclists (49 percent) was larger than the decline among male bicyclists (18 percent).

Bicyclist deaths by gender, 1975-2006

Bicyclist deaths by gender, 1975-2006
Year Male Female Total*
Num % Num % Num
1975 820 82 183 18 1,003
1976 751 82 163 18 914
1977 730 79 192 21 922
1978 714 80 178 20 892
1979 759 81 173 19 932
1980 782 81 183 19 965
1981 748 80 181 19 936
1982 720 83 144 17 864
1983 700 84 130 16 830
1984 684 82 153 18 838
1985 732 84 137 16 869
1986 789 85 140 15 929
1987 826 88 114 12 940
1988 773 86 128 14 901
1989 696 85 126 15 822
1990 732 86 121 14 853
1991 715 86 121 14 836
1992 627 87 90 13 717
1993 702 87 104 13 806
1994 687 86 109 14 796
1995 699 84 128 15 828
1996 654 86 107 14 761
1997 712 88 99 12 811
1998 658 87 99 13 757
1999 656 87 94 13 750
2000 613 89 76 11 689
2001 657 90 72 10 729
2002 590 89 73 11 663
2003 554 88 71 11 626
2004 626 87 96 13 722
2005 687 88 97 12 784
2006 675 88 93 12 770
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Ninety-five percent of bicyclists killed in 2006 reportedly weren't wearing helmets.

Bicyclist deaths by helmet use, 1994-2006
Year No helmet use Helmet use Total*
Num % Num % Num
1994 776 97 19 2 796
1995 783 95 34 4 828
1996 731 96 27 4 761
1997 785 97 23 3 811
1998 741 98 16 2 757
1999 698 93 42 6 750
2000 622 90 50 7 689
2001 616 84 60 8 729
2002 589 89 54 8 663
2003 535 85 58 9 626
2004 602 83 87 12 722
2005 676 86 77 10 784
2006 730 95 37 5 770
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Twenty-four percent of bicyclists killed in 2006 had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) at or above 0.08 percent. This percentage is one-third higher than in 1982.

Estimated number and percent of fatally injured bicyclists with BACs ≥ 0.08 percent, 1982-2006
Year Bicyclists killed Estimated bicyclists killed with BAC ≥ 0.08
Num Num %
1982 864 159 18
1983 830 129 16
1984 838 123 15
1985 869 105 12
1986 929 130 14
1987 940 140 15
1988 901 140 15
1989 822 123 15
1990 853 143 17
1991 836 157 19
1992 717 115 16
1993 806 146 18
1994 796 138 17
1995 828 169 20
1996 761 140 18
1997 811 150 19
1998 757 159 21
1999 750 174 23
2000 689 157 23
2001 729 173 24
2002 663 154 23
2003 626 145 23
2004 722 148 20
2005 784 185 24
2006 770 182 24

When they died

Bicyclist deaths in 2006 occurred most often during June-September and between the hours of 6pm and 9pm.

Distribution of bicyclist deaths by month, 2006
Month Deaths %
January 55 7
February 50 6
March 48 6
April 56 7
May 69 9
June 82 11
July 78 10
August 95 12
September 83 11
October 61 8
November 47 6
December 46 6
Total 770 100

Distribution of bicyclist deaths by time of day, 2006
Time of day Deaths %
Midnight-3am 34 4
3am-6am 42 5
6am-9am 87 11
9am-noon 82 11
Noon-3pm 103 13
3pm-6pm 115 15
6pm-9pm 168 22
9pm-midnight 139 18
Total* 770 100
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Age and gender

Deaths among bicyclists younger than 16 have gone down by 84 percent since 1975, while deaths among bicyclists 16 and older have more than doubled.

Percent of bicyclist deaths by age, 1975-2006
Year <16 ≥16 Total*
Num % Num % Num
1975 675 67 323 32 1,003
1976 605 66 306 33 914
1977 613 66 306 33 922
1978 570 64 320 36 892
1979 552 59 373 40 932
1980 529 55 431 45 965
1981 479 51 438 47 936
1982 413 48 446 52 864
1983 434 52 392 47 830
1984 410 49 415 50 838
1985 424 49 435 50 869
1986 435 47 485 52 929
1987 443 47 494 53 940
1988 393 44 502 56 901
1989 371 45 449 55 822
1990 292 34 551 65 853
1991 300 36 530 63 836
1992 297 41 418 58 717
1993 303 38 500 62 806
1994 294 37 495 62 796
1995 278 34 542 65 828
1996 248 33 507 67 761
1997 248 31 560 69 811
1998 229 30 526 69 757
1999 211 28 537 72 750
2000 191 28 496 72 689
2001 155 21 570 78 729
2002 153 23 503 76 663
2003 143 23 481 77 626
2004 149 21 569 79 722
2005 142 18 636 81 784
2006 110 14 653 85 770
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

More than 7 times as many bicyclist deaths in 2006 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 50-54 year-old males.

Bicyclist deaths per million people by age and gender, 2006

Bicyclist deaths per million people by age and gender, 2006
Age Males Females Total*
Population Deaths Rate Population Deaths Rate Population Deaths Rate
0-8 18,514,947 28 1.5 17,690,545 5 0.3 36,205,492 33 0.9
9-12 8,240,351 32 3.9 7,861,065 9 1.1 16,101,416 43 2.6
13-15 6,543,085 32 4.9 6,232,894 3 0.5 12,775,979 35 2.7
16-19 8,718,360 39 4.5 8,277,859 5 0.6 16,996,219 44 2.6
20-24 10,910,090 38 3.5 10,201,150 6 0.6 21,111,240 44 2.1
25-29 10,584,270 36 3.4 10,125,210 7 0.7 20,709,480 43 2.1
30-34 9,980,383 43 4.3 9,726,116 6 0.6 19,706,499 49 2.5
35-39 10,649,913 38 3.6 10,535,872 8 0.8 21,185,785 46 2.2
40-44 11,200,369 62 5.5 11,280,796 11 1.0 22,481,165 73 3.2
45-49 11,261,856 76 6.7 11,535,713 7 0.6 22,797,569 83 3.6
50-54 10,027,772 71 7.1 10,452,833 7 0.7 20,480,605 80 3.9
55-59 8,845,291 59 6.7 9,379,154 5 0.5 18,224,445 64 3.5
60-64 6,378,589 36 5.6 6,983,649 2 0.3 13,362,238 38 2.8
65-69 4,838,842 33 6.8 5,536,712 4 0.7 10,375,554 37 3.6
≥70 10,818,034 45 4.2 16,066,764 8 0.5 26,884,798 53 2.0
Total* 147,512,152 668 4.5 151,886,332 93 0.6 299,398,484 772 2.5
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Where they died

Many more bicyclists were killed in urban areas than in rural areas in 2006 (71 percent compared with 27 percent). In 1975, bicyclist deaths occurred equally in rural and urban areas.

Bicyclist deaths by land use, 1975-2006
Year Urban Rural Total*
Num % Num % Num
1975 497 50 506 50 1,003
1976 470 51 444 49 914
1977 543 59 375 41 922
1978 532 60 350 39 892
1979 541 58 367 39 932
1980 563 58 390 40 965
1981 528 56 371 40 936
1982 490 57 364 42 864
1983 502 60 324 39 830
1984 491 59 346 41 838
1985 515 59 353 41 869
1986 567 61 361 39 929
1987 532 57 406 43 940
1988 525 58 374 42 901
1989 520 63 302 37 822
1990 523 61 330 39 853
1991 539 64 297 36 836
1992 448 62 265 37 717
1993 491 61 313 39 806
1994 477 60 318 40 796
1995 540 65 284 34 828
1996 494 65 265 35 761
1997 519 64 289 36 811
1998 479 63 277 37 757
1999 484 65 266 35 750
2000 422 61 251 36 689
2001 478 66 251 34 729
2002 450 68 211 32 663
2003 435 69 189 30 626
2004 477 66 242 34 722
2005 539 69 243 31 784
2006 546 71 206 27 770
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

One-third of bicyclist deaths in 2006 occurred at intersections.

Bicyclist deaths by junction type, 2006
Intersection Non-intersection Total*
Num % Num % Num %
254 33 511 66 770 100
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Sixty percent of bicyclist deaths in 2006 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways, and 33 percent occurred on minor roads. Forty-six percent of deaths among bicyclists younger than 16 and 62 percent of deaths among bicyclists 16 and older occurred on major roads.

Bicyclist deaths by age and road type, 2006
Road type Child bicyclist deaths (<16) Adult bicyclist deaths (≥16) All ages*
Num % Num % Num %
Interstates and freeways 1 1 31 5 32 4
Major roads 51 46 407 62 463 60
Minor roads 54 49 197 30 253 33
All road types* 110 100 653 100 770 100
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

References