Roadway improvements have been shown to reduce crashes.
Two percent of motor vehicle crash deaths are bicyclists. In a majority of these deaths, the most serious injuries were 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, not just young bicyclists. Eighty-four percent of bicycle deaths are persons 20 and older. During the past few years, no more than 15 percent of 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 675 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles in 2011, a 10 percent increase from 2010. Bicyclist deaths were down 33 percent since 1975. Deaths among bicyclists younger than 20 have declined 87 percent since 1975, while deaths among bicyclists 20 and older have increased 167 percent. The decline since 1975 among female bicyclists (46 percent) was larger than the decline among male bicyclists (30 percent). In every year since 1975, many more male than female bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles.
Bicyclist deaths by age and gender, 1975-2011
Sixty-seven percent of bicyclists killed in 2011 reportedly were not wearing helmets. Information on helmet use became available in FARS in 1994.
It is estimated that 25 percent of bicyclists age 16 and older who were killed in 2011 had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) at or above 0.08 percent.
Bicyclist deaths in 2011 were higher during the warm weather months of June, July, August and September (10 percent, 13 percent, 10 percent and 10 percent, respectively) and were least likely to occur during the winter months of January, February and March ( 6 percent, 5 percent and 6 percent, respectively).
Bicyclist deaths in 2011 occurred more often during the hours from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (22 percent).
Many more bicyclists were killed in urban areas than in rural areas in 2011 (69 percent compared with 31 percent). In 1975, bicyclist deaths occurred equally in rural and urban areas.
Thirty-six percent of bicyclist deaths in 2011 occurred at intersections.
Sixty percent of bicyclist deaths in 2011 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways, and 35 percent occurred on minor roads. Sixty-one percent of deaths among bicyclists younger than 20 occurred on minor roads, while 64 percent of deaths among bicyclists 20 and older occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways.
©1996-2013, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute | www.iihs.org
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