THE TOLL IS A LOT HEAVIER THAN YOU MIGHT THINK: BIKE ACCIDENTS IN THE U.S.

Researchers have recently discovered that adult bike crashes cost more than $24 billion per year in medical and health costs in the United States. And the costs are only going up.

That $24 billion figure is roughly twice that of medical and indirect costs of workplace injuries, according to study authors Dr. Benjamin Breyer and Dr. Timothy Gaither, from the University of California, San Francisco.

The study authors, who analyzed data of fatal and nonfatal crashes during the period of 1999 to 2013, revealed even more sobering facts:

  • That $24B cost has been rising by about $789 per year.
  • Between 1999 and 2013, almost 10,000 people died in bicycle crash-related deaths.
  • Hospital admissions caused by bike crashes have risen by 120 percent and there were 3.8 million nonfatal adult cycle injuries during that period.

“What that shows is the need for improved bicycle safety measures,” said James Johnson, ESQ, founder and head attorney for Johnson Attorneys Group.  “It comes as no surprise that when there’s an accident between a vehicle and a bicyclist, it will most likely be the bicyclist who is injured.”

Johnson noted that even more statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are also startling.

Here is the most recent data:

  • There has been a 64% increase in cyclists travelling to work from 2000 to 2012.
  • 2014 saw 726 cyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes.
  • After being alarmed by these numbers and placing an emphasis on creating more bicycle lanes, New York saw a 21% decrease in cyclist deaths in 2015.
  • Some states have instituted bicycle lanes and, so far, the most successful is New York City, most likely due to the large number of lanes. Other states need to catch up.

But in the meantime, there are things that can be done to reduce the statistical dangers of cycling.

Bikers and drivers each have their own responsibilities to fulfill in the nationwide effort to reduce the cost of bicycle accidents.

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS FOR BIKERS:

  • Wear a helmet.
  • Wear visible, reflective clothing.
  • Make sure that you are confident in your riding skills. You’ll be navigating traffic, pedestrians, potholes, detours, etc.
  • Ride defensively and predictably.

Remember, crashes aren’t the only cause of accidents. If someone is driving recklessly, if you see a driver who seems to be paying more attention to the phone than the road or if you get a sense of a “road rage” incident, bike away from them as soon as you possibly can.

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS FOR DRIVERS:

  • Drive defensively and predictably.
  • While we wait for more bicycle lanes to open, don’t get too frustrated with slower traffic due to sharing the road with bikers.
  • Don’t engage in “distracted driving,” (texting, phone calls, etc). Be aware of your surroundings.

Alternatively, if you see someone biking provocative as if to pick a fight, don’t give in and just drive away from them quickly.

“Following these precautions will allow you to reduce your statistical chance of getting into a bicycle accident,” said Johnson, “ But if you are involved in an accident, it is important to know that people are out there waiting to help you.”

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