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 86 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 714 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles in 2008. Bicyclist deaths were down 29 percent since 1975 but were up 14 percent since 2003. The decline since 1975 among female bicyclists (50 percent) was larger than the decline among male bicyclists (24 percent).
Bicyclist deaths by gender, 1975-2008
Ninety-one percent of bicyclists killed in 2008 reportedly weren't wearing helmets.
Twenty-six percent of bicyclists age 16 and older killed in 2008 had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) at or above 0.08 percent.
Bicyclist deaths in 2008 occurred most often during the months of August-October.
In 2008, bicycle deaths occurred most often between 6pm and 9pm (21 percent).
Deaths among bicyclists younger than 16 have declined 86 percent since 1975, while deaths among bicyclists 16 and older increased 91 percent. Deaths of bicyclists younger than 16 were 13 percent of all bicyclist deaths in 2008.
More than 7 times as many bicyclist deaths in 2008 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, 2008
Many more bicyclists were killed in urban areas than in rural areas in 2008 (68 percent compared with 31 percent). In 1975, bicyclist deaths occurred equally in rural and urban areas.
Thirty-eight percent of bicyclist deaths in 2008 occurred at intersections.
Sixty-one percent of bicyclist deaths in 2008 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways, and 35 percent occurred on minor roads. Sixty percent of deaths among bicyclists younger than 16 and 31 percent of deaths among bicyclists 16 and older occurred on minor roads.
©1996-2016, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute | www.iihs.org
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