Knowing bicycle fatality statistics may keep riders safer

If you ride your bicycle frequently around the Bay Area, you are probably familiar with traffic conditions and know that some areas are safer than others for cyclists.

However, you may not know much about bicycle fatality statistics overall. Keeping at least some of the statistics in the back of your mind may help you remain more vigilant and enjoy a safer ride.

About the numbers

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration keeps track of “pedalcyclist” fatalities across the nation. The latest figures, from 2017, show that California and Florida ranked highest among all the states that year with 124 cyclist fatalities and 125 respectively. Every other state reported fewer than 50 such deaths.

Where and when fatal crashes occur

At 75%, the majority of cyclist fatalities occurred in urban rather than rural areas. Because we have entered the fall season, you may want to know that in the fall of 2017 from September to November, 25% of the fatalities took place between 6:00 and 8:59 p.m., 19% from 3:00 to 5:59 p.m. and 13% well after dark from 9:00 to 11:59 p.m.

Those involved

In 2017, the average age of the bicyclists who died in crashes was 47, up from age 41 in 2008, and the majority were males (89%). In 82% of the fatal crashes, the front was the part of the vehicle that struck the cyclist, and a light truck was the type of vehicle most often involved. Additionally, alcohol use played a role in 37% of all fatal vehicle-bicycle crashes that year.

Riding in traffic

Many pedalcyclists in the Bay Area ride in traffic. If you are among them, keep the NHTSA statistics in mind for a safer ride, but remember that you have the same rights as motorists. Many vehicle-bicycle collisions occur because a motorist either drives too close to a bicycle or makes a sudden turn in front of the cyclist. If you should sustain injuries in a collision, do not hesitate to explore your legal options. If you were following the laws, the negligent driver is at fault and you deserve full financial compensation.

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