Why and How do Bicycle Deaths Happen?

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In a new report, the how, where and why of bicycle deaths across the United States, is revealed.

Note* The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, run by the government, reports only the number of cycling deaths over a period of time, but there are no other details in this data.

Because of this, the League of American Bicyclists decided to collect and compile the more detailed data themselves, by collecting as much detail as possible regarding the circumstances of deaths reported in TV reports and the press. Although this data has a lot more detail on each fatality, it is not as comprehensive. For example, whereas the government reported 726 deaths in 2012, the L.A.B. reported only 552.

According to the 628 cycling deaths reported between February of 2011 and February 2013, 40% of these were caused by rear-end collisions.  It’s a remarkable percentage. A specific type of collision was not reported for each of the fatalities in the data, but even just considering those that were reported, rear-end collision as a cause is remarkably high. There isn’t always a clear culprit in many accidents. However, in most cases where a rear-end collision has occurred, the driver is considered responsible rather than the cyclist.

What is particularly notable about these statistics is the fact that rear-end collisions do not form a large percentage of all bicycle collisions, but according to this data, they are by far the most dangerous of collisions for cyclists, particularly when the motorist is driving at a high speed and doesn’t see the bike.

The website, bicyclesafe.com features a guide which is specifically created for cyclists, and provides details, advice and tips on how to avoid being rear ended, as well as lowering their risk of other types of collisions. I urge bikers to review these helpful tips to make their ride more safe.

The League of American Bicyclists says: “Driver error contributes to way more deaths than cyclist error” Source: http://bikeleague.org/

In the database, secondary factors that contributed to the cyclist fatalities are also reported and detailed. Secondary factors were not involved in the majority of these deaths, but for those with these factors, the highest type were driver error.


Even though it’s possible there may be some bias in the interpreting of articles in the press, by a bicycling organization, the discrepancy is nonetheless still notable and obvious. According to the results of the data collected, there are far more cyclist fatalities caused by unsafe driving of motor vehicles  than there are caused by unsafe biking. As such, bikers need to take more steps to protect themselves and not just assume the driver of an automobile sees them or will take safety precautions to avoid hitting them. Too often one will see a biker in the middle of the road biking as if they own the highway and are oblivious to the cars and high risk around them. This behavior is extremely dangerous, especially considering that they have their backs to the motorists travelling behind them. The most dangerous roads, and those that have the highest number of cyclist fatalities are high-traffic urban roads.

Is There Anything We Can Do?

We need to collect far better systematic data on cycling fatalities before we can more successfully prevent them from occurring. There are only a minority of states that are collecting the same detailed data on cycling collisions that they collect for car accidents.

Drivers need to be very alert and careful when approaching a biker on the road. Especially dangerous is when a motorist is texting or is distracted by their cell phone and do not see the biker to the side of the road.

Bicyclists need to ride more safely and not assume motorists see them or that motorists are skillful enough to avoid them. Bright clothing must be worn at all times and bikers must take all safety precautions when riding.

At Tindall Law firm, LLC we are very experienced in helping those injured in various accidents, which are caused by the wrongful conduct of another who violates the traffic safety laws, or fails to follow premises’ safety rules, or workplace safety rules. We fight on your behalf to help you receive the just compensation to which you are entitled to cover the harms and losses, which you have sustained. Please contact us with any questions on this topic or any other legal issues by calling us at (203) 755-0018 or visiting us online at https://tindall-lawfirm.com/ with all your legal needs.