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 87 percent of bicycle deaths are persons 16 and older. During the past few years, only about 1 in 10 fatally injured bicyclists were wearing helmets.
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 630 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles in 2009. Bicyclist deaths were down 37 percent since 1975. The decline since 1975 among female bicyclists (56 percent) was larger than the decline among male bicyclists (33 percent). In every year since 1975, many more male than female bicyclists were killed in motor vehicle crashes.
Bicyclist deaths by gender, 1975-2009
Ninety-one percent of bicyclists killed in 2009 reportedly weren't wearing helmets. Information on helmet use became available in FARS in 1994.
Twenty-eight percent of bicyclists age 16 and older killed in 2009 had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) at or above 0.08 percent.
Bicyclist deaths in 2009 peaked during the warm weather months of June-August (12 percent in each month) and were least likely to occur during the winter months of January and February (4 percent in each month).
Bicyclist deaths in 2009 occurred most often during the hours of 3pm-6pm (19 percent) and 6pm-9pm (22 percent).
Deaths among bicyclists younger than 16 have declined 87 percent since 1975, while deaths among bicyclists 16 and older increased 69 percent. Deaths of bicyclists younger than 16 were 13 percent of all bicyclist deaths in 2009.
Many more bicyclists were killed in urban areas than in rural areas in 2009 (69 percent compared with 30 percent). In 1975, bicyclist deaths occurred equally in rural and urban areas.
Thirty-six percent of bicyclist deaths in 2009 occurred at intersections
Fifty-eight percent of bicyclist deaths in 2009 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways, and 36 percent occurred on minor roads. Forty-nine percent of deaths among bicyclists younger than 16 and 34 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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