Cycling Safety

Road or Traffic collision fatalities may be down, but looking at the number of deaths of cyclists, according to the NHTSA, these figures have been on the rise! With a total of 49,000 cyclists injured and 726 fatalities, this shows an increase of 6% in 2012, as compared to 2011. The total of cyclists killed, as a result of an auto collision or related incident accounts for over 2% of total fatalities as reported by the NHTSA (see http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Cats/listpublications.aspx?Id=45&ShowBy=Category and graph below).

Data from the NHTSAClick to Enlarge

Looking at the figures above we see that the same amount of cyclists were killed in auto crashes in 2004, as compared with 2012 – however the total fatalities are significantly reduced; and the percentage of these fatalities relevant to the cyclists is up 0.5%.

Fatalities of Cyclists

Click to Enlarge

In considering the data provided as graphically illustrated above, the amount of cyclist fatalities show a consistent level, and even a slight downward trend, when viewed in isolation. However viewed within the actual cause and relation to auto collisions, per the above table, the overall percent of total fatalities is on the up – see below:

Cyclist fatalities as a percent of totalClick to Enlarge

What we Need is Cyclist Safety!

Safety for all road users is an absolute must, being a road cyclist does not exempt the rider from being cautious, or even allow the bicycle rider to disobey the rules of the road. Safety when riding on the roads, in both urban and rural areas is crucial in an aim to bring down these stats and hopefully help all road users in general. If you use the road regularly as a cyclist, here are a few safety tips:

  • Always Wear a Helmet – a properly fitting helmet, secured can help avoid head injuries – one of the leading causes of injuries to cyclists
  • Be Seen – help fellow road users know you are there by wearing reflective gear and at night use both a front light and a flashing rear light.
  • Don’t Drink and Ride – “of the pedalcyclists killed in 2012 …. almost one-fourth (24%) had BACs of .09 g/dL or higher”
  • Be vigilant – as a cyclist you have to assume that the driver of a motor vehicle does not see you. Ensure that you signal properly, anticipate possible movements of a vehicle and be aware of vehicles that may be coming out of intersections or parking areas, as well as motorists or their passengers opening their doors.
  • Urban Area Care – the majority of fatalities occur in urban areas, so cyclists should be extra careful in built up areas.
  • Learn Avoidance Maneuvers – road & weather conditions as well as other road users are out of your control. Learn how to handle your bicycle to avoid collisions or specific road surfaces when you need to.
  • Use Signaling – make sure all around can see or anticipate your intentions, be proactive in using the correct signaling and aim to be entirely, and completely visible for fellow road users.

Although cyclists can take all precautions and be as prepared as possible when cycling on the roads, there is no absolute fail safe to prevent accidents or even fatalities, however trying to avoid these situations will most certainly help prevent some of the most common types of bicycle collisions or falls. By focusing on being safe and alert injuries can also be minimized, and hopefully avoided altogether.

References