By far, being hit by a car is the major cause of cyclist injuries or death. The statistics show a slight decline in recent years, but exposure data is far from complete.
According to the NHTSA, 818 people died in bicycle-vehicle accidents in 2015, a 12.2 percent increase from 2014. On the other hand, the number of bicyclists injured went down from 50,000 in 2014 to 45,000 in 2015. This figure is based on actual reports. However, it might be considered an estimate because certain factors are not known. For example, no one knows how far a cyclist travels on a particular outing or how long he or she is exposed to car and truck traffic. Some collisions are not reported.
The risk of bike accidents varies
The most frequent causes of cyclist injury include rider inattention, a roadway in disrepair, a dog that runs out in front of the rider, a fall, or— by far the greatest cause — being struck by a vehicle.
Many variables contribute to the likelihood of a car-bike condition:
- Time of day, with riding after dark being more dangerous
- Location and amount of traffic
- Road conditions and weather conditions
- “Bike-friendly” features such as designated bike lanes
- The experience level of the cyclist
Who and where
California leads the nation in cyclist deaths, followed by Florida and Texas, but bike fatalities happen in every state. The average age of bicycle riders who are killed by cars has risen steadily in the last few decades. Fewer kids are riding their bikes to school, while more adults are riding for exercise, pleasure, or commuting.
The average age of bike fatalities in 1988 was 24; in 2004, it had risen to age 39, and in 2014, age 45. Most of these riders (88 percent) were male, and most of the fatal crashes occurred between 6:00 and 9:00 pm.
The insurance issue
If you are a cyclist involved in a crash, the good news is that you survived; the bad news is that you may have serious injuries. Now you must file a claim for compensation.
A personal injury attorney will tell you that insurance companies are not friendly; they want to protect their own interests, not yours. However, injured bicyclists have rights and deserve full and fair compensation when they are victims of a bicycle-vehicle collision. If the auto driver is uninsured, underinsured, or flees the scene without being ID’d (hit-and-run), you should be covered under your own auto insurance policy.
A lawyer can identify the applicable coverages and hold the negligent party and insurance companies to their obligation.