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-three percent of bicycle deaths are persons 20 and older. During the past few years, no more than 17 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 722 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles in 2012, a 6 percent increase from 2011. Bicyclist deaths were down 28 percent since 1975. Deaths among bicyclists younger than 20 have declined 84 percent since 1975, while deaths among bicyclists 20 and older have increased 193 percent. The decline since 1975 among female bicyclists (51 percent) was larger than the decline among male bicyclists (23 percent). In every year since 1975, many more male than female bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles.
Sixty-five percent of bicyclists killed in 2012 reportedly were not wearing helmets; helmet use was unknown for 18 percent. Information on helmet use became available in FARS in 1994.
It is estimated that 28 percent of bicyclists age 20 and older who were killed in 2012 had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) at or above 0.08 percent. Imputations for missing BACs were provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation's multiple imputation model beginning in 1982.
Bicyclist deaths in 2012 were highest during the months of July, August and October (11 percent, 10 percent and 10 percent, respectively) and lowest during the months of January, February and December (7 percent, 6 percent and 5 percent, respectively).
Bicyclist deaths in 2012 occurred most often during the hours from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (23 percent).
Many more bicyclists were killed in urban areas than in rural areas in 2012 (69 percent compared with 31 percent). In 1975, bicyclist deaths occurred equally in rural and urban areas.
Thirty-seven percent of bicyclist deaths in 2012 occurred at intersections.
Fifty-nine percent of bicyclist deaths in 2012 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways, and 36 percent occurred on minor roads.
©1996-2015, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute | www.iihs.org
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