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What Percentage of Bicycle Accidents Are Fatal?

What Percentage of Bicycle Accidents Are Fatal?

Bicycles are a fun way to incorporate exercise into one’s routine, especially after working all day. It’s a healthy form of de-stressing the body and mind and allows one to relax in nature while improving their lifestyle. However, as with any type of vehicle, some risks come with sharing the road as a bicyclist.

Bicycle accidents involving cars and trucks can lead to severe injuries, and death, and after that contact a bicycle accident lawyer for compensation. Even though bicyclists make up only one percent of all national trips, bicyclists account for over 2 percent of people who die in bicycle-car crashes.

More and More Cyclists are on the Road

Although some belief bicycling is more dangerous than driving motor vehicles, many people prefer cycling for several reasons. It provides a much healthier way for social interaction than being on the phone and social media. It allows them to be with nature and is a natural remedy to stress from a long workday.

Bike commuters appear healthier overall than those driving daily to and from work. They also cost less for maintenance. Bicycles can travel faster than cars in a dense city or downtown. Minor traffic crashes can decrease because busy metropolitan streets don’t pack bikes tightly together like motor vehicles. Ask bicyclists why they prefer to ride a bicycle, and their list will contain endless, understandable reasons.

Demographics and Locations

Every year in the U.S., about 1,000 bicyclists die, and another 130,000 receive injuries in these accidents. There are several surprising statistics about who is mainly involved in bicycle-car accidents, regarding age, sex, and location. Regarding age, adults between the ages of 55 to 59 have the highest death rates. The group following this involved those adults between the ages of 60 to 64, then 50 to 54, and finally, 65 to 69.

These individuals are those who have retired and do not have an obligation to commute as others do anymore. Therefore they spend more time riding bicycles as a hobby and exercise. The higher the number of bicyclists, the higher the chance for more injuries and deaths due to other irresponsible motor vehicles also on the road.

Regarding gender, statistics show that male bicyclists have six times the death rate and five times the injury rate of females. In a recent year, most bicyclists killed in traffic crashes were male (86 percent). The fact that there are many more men on bicycles than women and that women tend to be more cautious on their routes does not override the issue of motor vehicle operators driving aggressively and irresponsibly, putting every bicyclist at risk.

Urban cities and rural towns may seem like a day and night comparison to many, but there are risks to bicyclists in both settings. Seventy-eight percent of bicyclist fatalities occur in urban areas, as opposed to 22 percent in rural ones. While the chances of a collision with vehicles escalates in an overpopulated city, rural roads still pose a danger to cyclists.

Twenty-seven percent of fatalities occurred at intersections, which are in rural towns as well, but 64 percent of those occurred at other parts of the city or town. Nine percent happened in other locations, like bicycle lanes, sidewalks, driveways, and parking lanes.

Does the Time of Day Matter?

The time of the day is a significant factor in bicycle traffic crashes. During the winter, bicyclist fatalities most often occurred between 6 p.m. and 8:59 p.m. (27 percent) and 18 percent from 3 p.m. to 5:59 p.m. In the winter, the sun sets much sooner, so motorists hit more cyclists in the late afternoon because of the dark. This reason does not justify the increased risks, though; no matter what time of day it is, car and truck drivers should always remain sufficiently vigilant for bicyclists.

Drivers might try to use the excuse that it became darker sooner than usual after striking a bicyclist. There are ways of preventing these accidents and being more watchful, such as always having headlights and fog lights on as soon as the sun starts to go down, continuously checking their blind spots, and consistently stopping completely at stop signs and red lights. When drivers fail to take proper safety measures, they should be liable for injuries they cause.

From 3:00 PM to 5:59 p.m. is also when many students get picked up from school, increasing the chances of a crash. Many parents like to meet up with their children at school and ride home together, and this is where they can easily get into an accident with an irresponsible driver who does not take extra care to watch out for them. During spring months, 19 percent of bicyclist fatalities occurred again during after-school hours.

During the summer, when the day lasts longer, most bicyclist fatalities in traffic crashes occur from 9 p.m. to 11:59 p.m.. Once again, nighttime is no excuse for drivers to get reckless. Regardless of when they are driving, they should always be attentive.

Types of Bicycle Injuries

Because of the bicycle’s nature and the lack of protection compared to a motor vehicle, many different types of injuries can arise from a traffic crash. Most of these traumatic injuries start with the head, resulting in skull fractures, concussions, bleeding, and contusions. Facial fractures can also occur, including dental breaks, foreign bodies within the eyes, and facial lesions.

Road rash is common, as well as bone fractures and dislocations. They may experience severe damage to their abdomen, involving splenic rupture, traumatic hernias, trauma to the pancreas, vascular perforation, and more.

Head injuries are possibly the most dangerous type that one can receive after a bicycle-car accident because they can lead to a TBI or a traumatic brain injury. Head injuries cause over 60 percent of all bicycle accident deaths and long-term or permanent disabilities.

Symptoms can range from cognitive to physical to sensory and can progress over time, so it is crucial to look out for all signs and any changes in the individual following the accident. Some severe symptoms include slurred speech, clear fluids draining from the nose or eyes, seizures, numb fingers and toes, and inability to wake up from sleep.

While many cyclists face catastrophic injuries each year, about one percent do not survive their injuries at all. Families face a tragic emotional loss and, often, a significant financial loss. They should always discuss their rights to a wrongful death claim with a bicycle accident attorney,

How Expensive Are Bicycle Accidents?

Bicycle injuries resulting from traffic crashes can be very costly. A study by the University of California, San Francisco, found that medical costs from non-fatal crashes have been increasing steadily over the years—rising to an estimated $789 million annually. When considering both fatal and non-fatal bicycle-car accidents, over 17 years, the medical costs involved added up to $237 billion: $208 billion for non-fatal injuries and $28 billion for fatal injuries.

The total expenses from bicycle accidents in just one year added up to more than $24.4 billion. This number represents double the costs that other occupational illnesses amounted to in the same year. Over 15 recent years, a study found that each year, the costs for non-fatal injuries rose by 137 percent and 23 percent for fatalities. Researchers claim that a safer road infrastructure for bicyclists might have prevented much of this, but motorists are still at fault for many bicycle crashes.

Legal Claims for Bicycle Crash Victims

Drunk Driving and BicyclistsAnyone with injuries from a bicycle accident should discuss their legal options with an attorney. When someone else is negligent and causes injuries, they should have to cover the losses of victims. This applies to drivers who make mistakes and cause injuries to cyclists. Injured cyclists can file personal injury claims against the liable party or parties. This usually begins with an insurance claim and sometimes escalates to a lawsuit in civil court.

The claim can seek compensation for losses, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost earnings
  • Future costs
  • Pain and suffering

If a bicycle crash is fatal, the surviving spouse, children, or parents might file a wrongful death claim.

This type of claim seeks compensation for the family’s losses, including:

  • Medical, funeral, and burial expenses
  • Emotional grief and suffering
  • Lost financial support of the deceased
  • Loss of services from the deceased

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Drunk Driving and Bicyclists

Drunk drivers pose a perilous and lethal risk to bicyclists. Alcohol can severely impair a driver’s coordination and concentration. Alcohol reduces their vision, and they will have a sense of overconfidence that can lead them to make irresponsible decisions on the road. Driving under the influence can lead a driver to strike a bicyclist and not even realize what happened.
After all, it only takes the blood alcohol content (BAC) level to reach 0.2 percent, the equivalent of consuming two glasses, for the body to start relaxing and losing balance. Drunk drivers can strike the bicyclist easily at intersections while running stop signs, leaving driveways, and directly on sidewalks.

The Dangers of Distracted Driving for Bicyclists

Although states across the nation are working on preventing this, driving while distracted only continues to get worse.

It comes in several forms:

  • Texting on the phone.
  • Reaching over to grab something from the other side.
  • Daydreaming.
  • Talking to someone else in the car.
  • Looking away from the road in front because of other surroundings that catch their attention.

Distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives in a recent year. A driver not giving the road their full attention is a significant liability, especially for bicyclists, since they take up a smaller frame of view for drivers.

Illegal Maneuvers

Many illegal maneuvers can catch passing bicyclists off guard and cause an accident. Some examples of these actions include turning from the wrong lane, making U-turns not allowed, traveling in the wrong direction, and not using turn signals. Some other common illegal maneuvers involve passing in a no-passing zone, running a red light, and failing to stop at a stop sign. Injured victims from a bicycle-car accident can seek damages in incidents involving illegal actions from a driver. These actions are irresponsible and negligent and can harm bicyclists profoundly.

Aggressive Driving

Bicyclists are sadly no strangers to harassment on the road. Aggressive behaviors from motorists are relatively widespread, with about 70 percent of cyclists claiming they have experienced some nagging from them. Fifteen percent said they had had items thrown at them while bicycling.

Several studies show how motor operators treat bicyclists, including one that concluded 49 percent of people view those who ride bicycles as non-humans. This form of thinking while driving on the road can lead to dangerous situations for bicyclists, as some do not know how to control their emotions and will take it out against the cyclists.

What Happens After a Bicycle Accident?

After a bicycle accident in a traffic crash occurs, many things can go through the injured party’s mind. Suddenly, a typical daily routine turns into confusion involving attorneys, medical expenses, physical pain, mental trauma, court dates, and countless papers.

One of the first things to do is contact an attorney with experience in bicycle accidents. They will gather all evidence needed and help ensure everything is in place to prove liability and obtain full compensation for medical bills and other losses. The injured party should also focus on getting medical treatment and rest.

Talk to a Bicycle Accident Attorney Today

The injuries from a bicycle accident can lead to a lifetime of pain, therapy, and excessive medical debt. For others, the result is a tragedy and the loss of a loved one that they can never reverse. You can hold the responsible party accountable for causing the accident and for your losses, whether you suffered injuries or lost a close family member.

Call an experienced bicycle accident attorney to discuss your case and fight for compensation.

Lauren Varner, Personal Injury Attorney

Lauren is a Personal Injury Attorney. She is Colorado native who became involved with the field of personal injury long before she became an attorney. Lauren’s professional philosophy centers around good old fashioned hard work, producing quality work product, and treating others professionally, with dignity and respect at all times.

Awards and as featured on

Top 40 Under 40 National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 NTL American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys 5280 Denver Top Lawyers 10 Best Attorney