Bicycle Statistics (DOT & NHTSA Reports)

Now here’s some interesting statistics on bike accidents and helmet protection:

This comes from the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, which compiled the data from multiple sources. Don’t let this deter you from riding. We need more riders and less car drivers.

Interestingly, it should be no surprise, based on a number of contributing factors, that you are far safer to WEAR A HELMET. I believe in helmets. One took the impact for me. I still had a concussion, but would hate to think what would have resulted without the helmet.

Remember: helmets are good for one impact, then they need to be disposed.

First, a summary of US statistics available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Traffic Safety Facts – 2009 Data (released in 2010, and still the most recent)

    * 630 bicyclists died on US roads in 2009 (718 in 2008, 1,003 in 1975)

    * 74 were 14 or younger, a reduction of 58 per cent from the 178 killed in 2000.

    * Bicyclist deaths represented 2 per cent of all 2009 traffic fatalities.

    * 51,000 bicyclists were injured in traffic in 2009 (Up sharply from 43,000 in 2007)

And some more statistics from 2008 data also released in 2010:

    * One-seventh of the cyclists killed were between 5 and 15 years old.

    * Average age of a bicyclist killed on US roads: 41

    * Average age of a bicyclist injured on US roads: 31

    * Bicyclists 15 and under killed: 93. Injured: 13,000

    * Bicyclists 16 to 34 killed: 168. Injured 20,000

    * Bicyclists 35 to 54 killed: 270. Injured 13,000

    * Bicyclists 55 and older killed: 179. Injured 6,000

    * Alcohol involvement was reported in 37% of 2008 deaths.

    * Nearly one fourth (23%) of the cyclists killed were drunk. (BAC over .08 g.dl)

    * Fatal crashes typically were urban (69%) and at intersections (64%).

The NHTSA data is broken down by state on their Web site, and there is more detail available.

For 2008 child injuries, including state breakdowns, see this page on the NHTSA server.

Statistics from the Children’s Safety Network June, 2009

Bicycle injuries and deaths affect children and young people more often than any other age group.

    * In 2005, 44 percent of nonfatal bicycle injuries occurred in children and youth age 5 to 20.

    * In 2005, the rate per million of nonfatal bicycle injuries in children and youth age 5 to 20 was 462.17 compared to 153.3 overall.

    * In 2005, children and youth age 0 to 20 made up 23.4 percent of bicycle fatalities.

    * In 2005, the rate per million of bicycle fatalities in children and youth age 5 to 20 was 4.37 compared to 2.64 overall.

    * In 2005, children under 15 accounted for 53 percent of bicycle injuries treated in emergency deparments.

    * From 1999 to 2002, the average annual cost of bicycle fatalities in children and youth age 0 to 19 was $1.03 billion.

    * From 1999 to 2002, the average annual cost of nonfatal bicycle injuries in children and youth age 0 to 19 was $3.6 billion.

Young cyclists are more likely than adult cyclists to die of head injuries, most of which are caused by motor vehicle collisions. Among children and youth age 0 to 19 in 2000:

    * Head injuries accounted for 62.6 percent of bicycle fatalities.

    * Collisions with motor vehicles accounted for 75.7 percent of bicycle fatalities.

    * 61.7 percent of motor vehicle collision deaths were due to head injury.

Statistics from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission August, 2008

CPSC staff has reports of an annual average of 80 children under 16 years of age who died in bicycle-related incidents in recent years.

About half of the 500,000 bicycle-related emergency room-treated injuries in 2007 involved children under the age of 16. When taking part in other recreational activities, CPSC recommends that you wear the right helmet for that activity. Their “Which Helmet for Which Activity” publication helps parents choose the most appropriate helmet.

Statistics from the National Survey of Bicyclist and Pedestrian Attitudes and Behavior Released August, 2008, but based on a survey of 9,616 U.S. residents age 16 and older during the Summer of 2002.

A Gallup poll sponsored by the US Government to find out bicyclist and pedestrian behavior and attitudes. It took four years to publish. If the link above does not work, please use this one and then click on the Survey link under Pedestrians and Bicycles. (NHTSA often moves things.) We consider the findings on riding suspect because they are based on interviews rather than observational studies:

    * Half (50%) of bicyclists wear a helmet for at least some trips, with 35 percent using them for all or most trips.

    * Nine of 10 support helmet laws for children, while 62 percent support such laws for adults. (Here is an excerpt from the study with details.)

    * 46% of those 16 and older have regular access to a bicycle, with access increasing with increases in household income.

    * 43 percent ride a bicycle at least once in the summer months, making an estimated 2.484 billion trips during the summer of 2002.

    * Bicycling declines with age, with those under 20 most likely to bicycle and doing so more frequently, while the majority over 45 did not bicycle during the summer months.

    * The majority of bicycling trips were for recreation or for exercise, while just one in 5 trips were made to conduct errands (14%) or for commuting to work or school (5%).

    * About half of all trips (48%) were made on paved roads. An additional 13 percent were on shoulders of paved roads, and 5 percent on bike lanes on roads. One in 7 was made on sidewalks (14%) or bike trails/paths (13%).

    * Only half (50%) of bicyclists say bike paths are available in the area they ride, while 32 percent say bike lanes are available.

However, over half of those who do not use available bicycle paths or lanes say they don’t use them because they are not convenient, available, or go where they need to go.

    * More than one in 10 bicyclists (13%) felt threatened for their personal safety on the most recent day they rode their bicycle in the past 30 days in the summer of 2002, with 88 percent of these feeling threatened by motorists.

    * One in 5 bicyclists rode in the dark or near-dark for at least part of their trip, with 63 percent of these saying they took actions to make themselves more visible to motorists.

    * About 4 percent of bicyclists or 2.04 million, were injured while riding in the past two years. About .5 million of these were hit by a motorist.

    * Half (50%) of bicyclists wear a helmet for at least some trips, with 35 percent using them for all or most trips.

    * Nine of 10 support helmet laws for children, while 62 percent support such laws for adults.

    * Nearly half (48%) of those 16 and older are satisfied with how their local community is designed for making bicycle riding safer.

About as many (47%) would like to see changes including more bike lanes (38%) and bike paths (30%).

Statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Fatality Facts: Bicycles – 2008

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.

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. 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).

# Ninety-one percent of bicyclists killed in 2008 reportedly weren’t wearing helmets.

Bicycle Deaths by Helmet Use 1994-2006

Year     No Helmet     Helmet     Total* Num

1994    776 (97%)    19 (2%)    796

1995    783 (95%)    34 (4%)    828

1996    731 (96%)    27 (4%)    761

1997    785 (97%)    23 (3%)    811

1998    741 (98%)    16 (2%)    757

1999    698 (93%)    42 (6%)    750

2000    622 (90%)    50 (7%)    689

2001    616 (84%)    60 (8%)    729

2002    589 (89%)    54 (8%)    663

2003    535 (85%)    58 (9%)    626

2004    602 (83%)    87 (12%)    722

2005    676 (86%)    77 (10%)    784

2006    730 (95%)    37 (5%)    669

2007    646 (92%)    50 (7%)    699

2008    653 (91%)    58 (8%)    714

The attorneys at Sanders Law Firm, PLLC have handled cases ranging from broken humerus requiring a permanent rod to quadraplegia with severe brain damage. If you have a biking accident, call us to discuss at 336-724-4707 or email kirk@kirksanderslaw.com. We’ll evaluate your case at no cost to you. We represent bicyclists statewide in North Carolina (NC). If the event happened out of state, we will assist you in finding local counsel out-of-state.

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