Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Bicycle Crash Facts: State Of America's Roadways

More people than ever are taking up bicycle transportation these days, whether for health, the environment, savings or simply personal enjoyment. Despite its popularity, many people are unfamiliar with the best practices for public bicycling and what happens when it all goes wrong in the event of a crash.

Yet, cycling is a part of our society and its usage will only rise. The importance of education on this subject cannot be understated, whether you are a weekend rider, daily cruiser or motorist: all are responsible for sharing the road.

Prevalence and Reporting

Bicycle crashes are tragically common in many countries, and the United States is no exception. The U.S. National Highway Safety and Traffic Administration (NHTSA) describes more than 52,000 annual injuries involving collisions with automobiles, 610 of which are fatal. A disproportionate number of victims are children.

Official data currently suggests up to two cyclists a day die in crashes, with upwards of 140 daily injuries. According to bicyclinginfo.org, the problem is complicated by significant underreporting by police officers on the beat. Even when bicycle crashes cause injuries, a survey of hospital records compared to official crash rates reveals that as few as ten percent are reported for statistical purposes. Often, police officers simply don't know how to handle bike accidents.

It's a shocking reality for those who bike regularly, as well as city planners, law enforcement and hospital staff dealing with a steady stream of collisions. All this amounts to big social costs, estimated by the National Safety Council to exceed $4 billion annually.

A report released by the Minneapolis Department of Public Works earlier this year summarized a comprehensive investigation of bicycle-related crashes in the City of Lakes from 2000 to 2010. The public study revealed several interesting trends, some new and some of which reinforce what we already know about bike crashes.

For example, crash rates decrease as the number of bicyclists rises—a "safety in numbers" effect. It is as true in Minneapolis as in other cities where similar research has been conducted. However, when there are increased numbers of both drivers and cyclists out and about—like in the summertime—the result is a mess and steeper risks.

Researchers also noted that over one-fifth of crashes were hit-and-runs, in which a vehicle struck a cyclist and failed to stop.

The municipal analysis came to three logical conclusions based on the data:

  •     Busy intersections on major roadways are most dangerous.
  •     Drivers are not seeing and yielding to bicyclists.
  •     Bicyclists do not follow a uniform set of rules that drivers can predict.

Safety for All

Real-world collisions are the fault of both motorists and cyclists in different circumstances. In order to make roadways safe for all kinds of travel, however, blame can be set aside: everyone must learn to share the road in a respectful and rational manner. If everyone can learn to share the road, cycling deaths and motor accidents can be prevented, which in turn makes the road a safer place in our cities. With proper education and training, cyclists and motorists can coexist in peace.

For more information on how cyclists and motorists can share the road, read the guide published by GetInsuranceQuotes.ca.