Who is more likely to be killed in a bike accident: a child or an adult? The answer to this question has changed dramatically over the last 40 years.
In 1975, most victims of fatal bike accidents were children or teenagers. Today, the opposite is true: people over age 20 make up the vast majority of people killed while biking on U.S. roads, according to a new report by the Governors Highway Safety Administration that analyzed 40 years of data on bike fatalities.
Here are some of the report's findings about bike injuries in the U.S.:
- Adults accounted for nearly three out of four bicyclists injured on roadways in the U.S. in 2015.
- The vast majority - 85 percent - of bicyclists killed in 2015 were men.
- In 2015, the average age of a bicyclist killed in a traffic crash was 45, a number that has been steadily increasing in recent years.
- Currently, men are about three times as likely as women to have ridden a bike in the last year.
While overall bike deaths are still lower than 1970s levels, the report reveals a troubling trend in recent years. Since 2011, the number of people killed in bike accidents each year has been increasing, with 818 deaths reported in 2015.
How bikers can stay safe on the road
Whether you bike to work or just for fun, the report's conclusions point to several precautions you can take to keep yourself safe.
- Wear a helmet. More than half of the people who died in bike accidents in 2015 were not wearing one.
- Take extra caution when biking after dark, and try to bike on well-lit roads whenever possible. The 6 to 9 p.m. time period appears to be particularly dangerous for bikers.
- Be visible: reflective gear and lights are essential after dark and a good idea even in the middle of the day.
- Don't drink and ride: 22 percent bikers who died in traffic accidents in 2015 had a blood alcohol content level above 0.08.
When your precautions aren't enough
You can be the safest biker on the road and still get severely hurt by a distracted or drunk driver who doesn't see you in time. Bikers are extremely vulnerable when sharing roadways with cars and trucks and can suffer traumatic injuries from collisions.
If you or a family member is hit by a vehicle while biking, remember that you have the right to seek compensation from the at-fault driver. An experienced personal injury attorney, such as those at The Burress Law Firm, can help you through the process and ensure that you are fairly compensated.