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Bicyclist Fatalities On The Rise In The USA, New GHSA Report Shows

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has just released a shocking study on bicyclist fatalities in the USA. This new study shows that the number of bicyclists killed by automobile collisions rose to 12.2 percent in 2015.

Members of the GHSA wrote that 818 bicyclists lost their lives in 2015. They also revealed that 85 percent of the victims were male and most were around the age of 45.

About 55 additional bicyclists die each year due to fatal car accidents. While the number of fatalities for bicyclists 20 and under has gone down since 1975, the number of bicyclist fatalities for people over the age of 20 has only gone up.

More and more Americans are riding their bicycles for general health and fitness. The GHSA says that about 34 percent of Americans over the age of three have taken a ride on a bike in the past year. Out of all these American bikers, 74 percent were men and 26 percent were women.

Most road safety experts believe the main reason for this increase in fatalities has to do with distracted driving. Although the GHSA didn’t test for this specifically, all other traffic fatality reports have gone up ever since the smartphone became widely available.

The GHSA said that the one common thread in all bicyclist fatality reports was that the driver and the bicyclist failed to make eye contact before the crash. Most of the time either the bicyclist falsely assumed the driver would stop, or the driver didn’t see the bike rider.

One other major cause of bicyclist fatalities had to do with alcohol and drug abuse. The GHSA found that alcohol was a major contributing factor in about 37 percent of bicyclist fatalities in 2015.

Some common reasons for these fatalities include a car driver opening his car door as a bicyclist is passing by (aka “dooring”), the bicyclist riding on the wrong side of the road, and the motorist turning a corner too quickly as a bicyclist passes by. Researchers also found that most accidents occur at nighttime and in areas like a parking lot, side street, or alley.

Chris Mullen, State Farm’s director of technology research, said this report highlights the importance of being fully aware while driving today. Since bikers are more susceptible to fatalities while traveling on the road, Mullen says it’s “critical that we examine the factors surrounding these crashes and leverage a variety of proven tools to improve bicyclist safety nationwide.” State Farm was a major supporter of this GHSA study.

Anyone can download the GHSA’s full report on the organization’s main website. This report is officially called “A Right to the Road: Understanding & Addressing Bicyclist Safety.” In addition to the statistics listed above, this GHSA study suggests 30 actionable steps State Highway Safety Offices can put into place to improve bicyclist safety on the roads.

Road safety expert Pam Fischer was the leading author on this study. A few other key contributors to this report include Richard Retting, San Schwartz, and Larry Corsi. Besides the actual report, the GHSA has also produced a series of Webinar recordings and infographics.

Image credit GHSA