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Chicago Personal Injury Blog

Bicycle Fatalities Report

by Jared Staver in Personal Injury

A recent report on bicycle traffic deaths shows that just six states in the United States experienced more than half the bicycle fatalities — and Illinois was among those six.

When bicycles and motor vehicles collide, the results can be catastrophic for the person on the bike. The motorist has the weight and safety devices incorporated into the vehicle to shield him or her from the impact, but the bicyclist has only whatever he or she is wearing. It’s not uncommon for bicycle riders to experience serious head trauma, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, torn ligaments, and disfiguring lacerations.

The Bicyclist Safety report prepared for the Governors Highway Association found that from 2010 to 2012, bicyclist deaths had increased by 16 percent overall in the U.S., while other traffic fatalities increased by just 1 percent over the same period. Total nationwide bicycle fatalities each year were:

  • 621 in 2010
  • 680 in 2011
  • 722 in 2012

The good news is that fatalities still are down from the highest point since statistics began being compiled in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System in 1975, when there were 1,003 deaths. However, the recent uptick should be concerning to bicyclists and motorists alike.

More than two-thirds of bicycle deaths happen in densely populated urban areas like Chicago, where bicyclists and drivers increasingly share the roads.

According to the report, major contributing factors in bicycle fatalities are lack of helmet use and alcohol impairment — and not only from bicyclists encountering impaired drivers. The report said that in 2012, 28 percent of bicyclists over age 16 who were killed in traffic accidents had a blood alcohol concentration greater than .08, the legal limit in most states. In 32 percent of fatal bicycle traffic crashes in 2012, the driver or the bicyclist had a BAC over the legal limit.

When fatalities are broken down by state, the report shows that Illinois had 80 total fatalities from 2010 to 2012, or about 4 percent of the overall total for that three-year period. Illinois also has about 4 percent of the total national population.

What’s concerning about the numbers in Illinois is that they rose by about 21 percent over that time period. Illinois had 24 fatalities in 2010, 27 in 2011, and 29 in 2012. The report notes that Chicago is among urban centers that are passing laws and taking other steps to promote bicycle safety, but the Chicago Department of Transportation reported in 2013 that bicycle traffic accidents were increasing as a percentage of overall traffic crashes.

If you’ve been involved in a bicycle traffic crash, you may have options for compensation through an accident claim. The experienced Chicago personal injury attorneys at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. can help. Call us at (312) 236-2900 for a free consultation today.

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