Bicyclist crashes with cars and SUVs: injury severity and risk factors

Monfort, Samuel S. / Mueller, Becky C.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
April 2023

Objective: The current study was conducted to investigate the differences in injury outcomes between bicyclists struck by SUVs and those struck by cars. This study was designed to complement an earlier investigation using a similar methodology but focusing on pedestrian crashes.
Methods: We analyzed 71 single-vehicle crashes from the Vulnerable Road User Injury Prevention Alliance (VIPA) pedestrian crash database, focusing on crashes involving an SUV or car. Each crash from this database included an in-depth analysis of police reports, bicyclist medical records, crash reconstructions, and injury attribution by a panel of experts.
Results: Bicyclist injuries from crashes with SUVs were more severe than those from crashes with cars, particularly with respect to head injuries. The greater injury severity associated with SUVs was related to these vehicles’ tendency to produce injuries from ground contact or from vehicle components near the ground. In contrast, cars were much less likely to produce ground injuries, and instead tended to distribute less severe injuries across multiple vehicle components.
Conclusions: The pattern of results suggest that the size and shape of SUV front ends are responsible for the differences in bicyclist injury outcomes, which is consistent with our past findings on pedestrian crash outcomes.