Grim news for bicyclists (and all road users) from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: 726 bicyclists died in collisions with motor vehicles in 2012.
The bicyclist fatalities in traffic pose a 6.5% increase from the previous year. 2012 marked the third straight year that bicyclist fatalities have risen since a 10-year low of 623 fatalities in 2009.
The number of bicyclists injured in collisions with motor vehicles increased by a lower rate — 2.1% — in 2012 to about 48,000.
All categories up
The news for motorists, passengers, motorcyclists and pedestrians was no better as each category experienced an increase in fatalities over the previous year in the 2012 Overview released late last week.
The increase was lowest for light trucks (1.0%) and passenger cars (2.1%) and greatest for large trucks (8.9%) and motorcycles (7.1%). The total increase was 3.3%; the fatality rate for bicyclists was nearly double that.
The increase in bicyclist fatalities could simply be an outgrowth of more bicyclists using the streets and roads for commuting, errand-running and touring. It could also be partly attributed to the growing array of digital gee-gaws and touchscreen devices that serve to distract motorists from the business of driving.
No single issue
In terms of overall traffic deaths, which rose to 33,561 in 2012, the feds report that the increase can be seen across all crash causes and cannot be laid to one issue. The increase is fatalities caused by alcohol impairment rose at a 4.6% increase, slightly more than the 3.3% overall increase in fatalities.
The traffic safety administration compared fatalities by quarter over the past two years. For bicyclists, the agency discovered a 31% increase from January through March 2012 compared to the same quarter in 2011. The April through June quarter saw a 10% rise over the previous year’s quarter. The final two quarters either slightly less or no change.
All categories saw the biggest increase in the first quarter, which the agency reports was the warmest first quarter in history.
Let’s all remember to be safe out there.
Bicycle fatalities over the past 10 years
2012 — 726
2011 — 682
2010 — 677
2009 — 623
2008 — 718
2007 — 701
2006 — 772
2005 — 786
2004 — 727
2003 — 629