Life-threatening and fatal accidents involving people riding bicycles may seem like a rare occurrence here in Indiana and Illinois, particularly in our cold winter months, but the truth is that there are many serious bicycle accidents and bike injuries in our part of the country.
Consider the following:
1. April 2016, Bicycle Fatality in Portage
In fact, just last Friday a 24-year-old man was riding his bicycle over on U.S. 20 near Old Porter Road with his buddy when he turned to ride over to Zip Foods and was hit by a car. The force of that impact slammed the bicyclist into eastbound traffic on U.S. 20, where he was hit by a second vehicle.
He was airlifted to a hospital in Olympia Fields, where he succumbed to his injuries. The Portage Police Department is investigating the accident.
2. January 2016, Bicyclist Killed in Lawrence
Another fatal bicycle accident happened here not too long before this recent U.S. 20 fatal bicycle crash, when a 54-year-old man riding his bike was hit by a car on Pendleton Pike, over in Lawrence. His death was particularly tragic since it involved a driver who was allegedly driving drunk and who drove off rather than help the man who had been hit.
Police have arrested a 23-year-old Indianapolis man for the hit-and-run accident involving the bicyclist. The charges included driving while intoxicated causing death/battery; and leaving the scene of a fatal accident.
3. May 2015, Bicyclist Fall Results in Death
Next month will be the anniversary of another bicycle accident death in our part of the country. Last Spring, on a pretty Saturday afternoon, a bicyclist was riding along Waverly Road near East Ballard Drive in Porter when he had an accident while riding his bike and fell. His injuries were severe and he later died from brain injuries he suffered in the fall from his bicycle. The cause of this bicycle accident was not known or reported.
Bicycle Accident Statistics: Rising Risk of Injury and Death and Bike-Riding Adults are Likely Victims (Not Kids)
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) reveal that each year, we can expect 2% of the total deaths from motor vehicle accidents to involve people riding bicycles who were hit and killed in the crash. Most of these fatalities are caused by traumatic brain injuries, where the bicycle accident victim suffers a severe hit to their head and their brain and spinal cord are harmed.
Contrary to many assumptions, most of these bicycle deaths do not involve young kids or teenagers, but adults over the age of 20 years. (In 2014, 86% of the bicycle accident deaths in the United States were reported to be victims aged 20 and older.)
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), things are getting more dangerous for people riding bicycles in our country. NHTSA data reveals there has been a 8.9% increase in bicycle injuries from 2001 to 2011.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider bicyclists to be in greater danger of accident and injury than those traveling by motor vehicle, citing Beck LF, Dellinger AM, O’Neil ME. Motor vehicle crash injury rates by mode of travel, United States: using exposure-based methods to quantify differences. Am J Epi 2007;166:212-8. From the CDC:
While only 1% of all trips taken in the U.S. are by bicycle, bicyclists face a higher risk of crash-related injury and deaths than occupants of motor vehicles do.
As for the factors that contribute to this higher risk factor for injury and death when riding a bicycle, the CDC provides the following:
- The people most likely to die in a bicycle accident are (1) adolescents and young adults (15-19 years) and (2) adults aged 40 years and older.
- Those most likely to suffer a serious injury in a bicycle accident serious enough to need Emergency Room care are (1) children (5-14 years), adolescents, and young adults (15-24 years).
- Men are at a higher risk of being seriously hurt or killed in a bicycle accident than women.
- Fatal bicycle accidents are most likely to happen in urban areas.
- Most fatal bike crashes do NOT happen at intersections.
- The most dangerous time to be riding a bicycle is between 3 pm and midnight; statistics show that 56% of fatal bicycle accidents happen during this time period.
- The highest fatality rate for bicyclists was for those adults between the ages of 55 and 59 years.
- Alcohol played a factor in over a third of U.S. bicycle accident deaths in 2013.
In Indiana, 14 people died in bicycle accidents in 2013.
In Illinois, 30 people died in bicycle accidents in 2013.
Our harsh winter weather is leaving Indiana and Illinois now, and we can look forward to a pleasant spring and sunny summer. More and more, bicyclists will be sharing the roads with cars, trucks, vans, and buses which can be very dangerous. Sadly, statistics are warning us that we can expect reports of serious bicycle accidents and even tragic deaths of people riding their bikes here in Indiana and Illinois in the upcoming months.
How can we protect ourselves and our loved ones? More in our next post. In the meantime, let’s be careful out there!