“Each year about 2 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths are bicyclists.”
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)
Yeah…I have started many of my blog posts with a quote…from a book, an essay, an article. Usually they’re about some aspect of being on a bicycle that provides a way to discuss how we can be safer or more confident, but occasionally straying into discussions about crashes, injuries and other such things.
Today, though I was struck by the facts on a particular webpage that I accessed in the process of writing a proposal. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety looked at the US Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).
As the quote that started this article says, each year about 2 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths are bicyclists. That’s 843 lives lost in 2019. That’s down a bit from the 888 in 2018, but it still represents a frightening number of fathers, mothers, friends, children, sons and daughters who died…
There are some remarkable details in the numbers. Ninety percent of deaths were among bicycle drivers aged 20 and older. Ninety percent is also the reduction in deaths since 1975 for bicycle drivers less than 20 years of age. And in every year since 1975, more males were killed than females.
Helmet use – no, you don’t have to wear a helmet as an adult, but 62% of bicyclists killed in 2019 were not wearing helmets. And yes, I understand that wearing a helmet would NOT prevent a large number of the deaths, but thank you, I’ll be wearing mine every time I get on my bicycle.
I’ve conducted a couple of certification seminars recently, and one of the topics covered is rural riding. One member of the class has to do a presentation on the things one should consider when riding in a rural setting. And in both, the dangers of the rural setting was emphasized. But here’s the thing: 22% of deaths were on rural roads. The other 78% were in urban settings. Hmm…maybe I’ll ride more out in the country.
And the majority occurred on major roads, and away from intersections. Yes, we need to have “eyes in the back of our heads” to see what’s going on around us.
Be vigilant. Be careful. Be alert. But be there. Get on your bike. Ninety-eight percent of motor vehicle crash deaths are NOT bicyclists.