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Deadly bicycle crash statistics

On Behalf of | Oct 7, 2020 | Firm News

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has gathered and published the official accident report for bicyclists in the United States in 2018. This data comes from traffic reports and a variety of other sources. 

The report breaks down the bicycle crash statistics a number of ways, including by state, time of day and vehicle factors. The report also provides a number of other crash facts. 

Pennsylvania vs. other states

Bicycle accidents killed 857 riders in the United States, which was 2.3% of all traffic fatalities that year. Florida, California and Texas had the highest fatality numbers at 161, 155 and 69, respectively. Even though this is somewhat counterbalanced by the population, Florida has the highest numbers in the country with 7.56 fatalities per million population. By contrast, Pennsylvania had 18 bicyclist fatalities, which was equal to 1.41 per million population. 

Time of day

The deadliest time of day for bicyclists was between 6 p.m. and 8:59 p.m., both on weekends and weekdays. Half of all rider fatalities occurred in the dark. Safety experts urge riders to increase visibility by: 

  • Wearing bright colors 
  • Putting reflective tape on clothing, shoes and equipment 
  • Installing front and rear lights and reflectors on the bicycle 
  • Wearing a properly fitting helmet 

Wearing a helmet is the most effective way to prevent a traumatic brain injury in a crash. 

Vehicle factors

In almost all of the fatal bicycle crashes, the triggering event was the vehicle hitting the bicycle. Drivers of light trucks – SUVs, pickups and vans – killed more bicyclists than any other type of vehicle (356 fatalities), and most of them struck the rider with the front of the vehicle. The higher impact point of these vehicle types and the greater horsepower they typically have may be a contributing factor. 

Passenger cars killed 294 riders, also primarily striking them with the front of the vehicle. Large trucks and buses were more likely to kill riders in side-impact crashes. 

Other crash data

From 2012 to 2018, bicyclists made up 2.2% to 2.3% of all traffic fatalities. The numbers during those years have climbed significantly, though, from 734 to 857. 

Although it may seem as if intersections would be more dangerous, 60% of the collisions happened at non-intersection locations, and only 29% occurred at intersections. Eleven percent of the crashes happened on shoulders and sidewalks, in parking lanes and bicycle lanes, and at other sites. 

Most bicyclists died in crashes in cities, with only 21% of the fatal collisions occurring in rural areas. 


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