Roadway improvements have been shown to reduce crashes.
Less than two percent of motor vehicle crash 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 telephone 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).
A total of 696 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles in 2007. Bicyclist deaths were down 31 percent since 1975 but up 11 percent since 2003. The decline since 1975 among female bicyclists (55 percent) was larger than the decline among male bicyclists (25 percent).
Bicyclist deaths by gender, 1975-2007
Ninety-two percent of bicyclists killed in 2007 reportedly weren't wearing helmets.
Twenty-eight percent of bicyclists age 16 and older killed in 2007 had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) at or above 0.08 percent.
Bicyclist deaths in 2007 occurred most often during June-July and September-October and between the hours of 6pm and 9pm.
Deaths among bicyclists younger than 16 have declined 84 percent since 1975, while deaths among bicyclists 16 and older increased 80 percent.
More than 7 times as many bicyclist deaths in 2007 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 45-49 year-old males.
Bicyclist deaths per million people by age and gender, 2007
Many more bicyclists were killed in urban areas than in rural areas in 2007 (71 percent compared with 28 percent). In 1975, bicyclist deaths occurred equally in rural and urban areas.
Thirty-eight percent of bicyclist deaths in 2007 occurred at intersections.
Sixty-two percent of bicyclist deaths in 2007 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways, and 33 percent occurred on minor roads. Forty-five percent of deaths among bicyclists younger than 16 and 30 percent of deaths among bicyclists 16 and older occurred on minor roads.
©1996-2013, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute | www.iihs.org
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