Public roads have always been a source of risk, and every mile traveled in a motor vehicle slightly adds to someone’s personal risk of being involved in a wreck. Motor vehicle collisions are one of the top causes of severe injuries and death in the United States, and they affect pedestrians and cyclists as well. Tracking crash rates and analyzing what contributes to major collisions is important for public safety. It facilitates better urban planning and leads to safer vehicle design. It can also help people understand when they may be at a particularly heightened risk of sustaining an injury.
Cyclists have always had to navigate a significant injury risk because they share the road with much larger and heavier motor vehicles, but the possibility of a crash has now reached a point where it is impossible for someone to ignore. The reported number of cyclist collisions is now higher than it has been in more than 40 years.
What do current crash statistics show?
Every year, safety experts and federal agencies analyze reported collisions to find trends and more effectively guide safety policy. In recent years, there has been a concerning increase in the number of people killed while biking on public roads. In 2021, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 966 reported cyclist fatalities in traffic collisions. That is the highest number of cyclist deaths since 1975, following several years of significant increases in reported cyclist deaths.
How can cyclists protect themselves?
Researchers have highlighted a significant uptick in dangerous driving behaviors as one of the contributing factors to the increase in cycling collisions and other types of car wrecks. Therefore, cyclists may be able to reduce their risk through more careful adherence to traffic laws and a concerted effort to be visible in traffic. They may also want to review their insurance coverage so that they have supplemental protection in case they get hit by someone else in traffic. Finally, maintaining an awareness of one’s rights under both insurance and personal injury laws will make it easier for an injured cyclist or their loved ones to get full compensation for their losses if they do get hurt by someone in a motor vehicle.
Being realistic about an increased risk of fatal collisions on the roads in recent years may help a cyclist avoid or better handle the aftermath of a crash with a larger vehicle.