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A Close Look at Bicycle Accident Fatalities

The League of American Bicyclists collected data on bicycle rider deaths from February of 2011 to February of 2013. The data was analyzed and a detailed report on the causes of bicyclist fatalities has now been released. The report was published in May of 2014 and is entitled Every Bicyclist Counts.

The findings showed that fatal bicycle crashes are frequently caused by motorists driving passenger vehicles. Bicycle riders who are injured or killed by drivers need to understand their right to obtain compensation from those responsible for collisions. A Boston bicycle accident lawyer can help.

How do Bicycle Accident Fatalities Happen

The League of American Bicyclists took data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and added details from newspaper reports in order to determine the circumstances of each of the accidents.

Of the 628 fatalities included in the report, just 94 were considered to be the fault of the bicycle rider. The majority of the deaths happened as a direct result of:

  • Careless driving.
  • Hit-and-run collisions.
  • Motorists driving under the influence of alcohol.

Approximately 40 percent of the fatalities occurred in hit-from-behind collisions. According to Outside Online, these types of bicycle accidents are relatively rare compared with other collisions such as those caused by drivers who sideswipe riders. This indicates that rear-end crashes tend to be especially dangerous when they occur and involve bicycle riders.

Other causes of fatalities included:

  • T-hit accidents, which accounted for 10 percent of fatalities.
  • Head-on accidents, which accounted for eight percent of bicycle rider deaths.
  • Right-hook accidents, which caused six percent of fatalities.
  • A driver failing to yield, which cause six percent of bicycle rider deaths.
  • Sideswipe accidents, which led to four percent of the accidents causing rider fatalities.
  • A cyclist’s failure to yield, which resulted in two percent of the fatalities.

The specific cause of the bicycle riders death could not be determined in 146 of the accidents and there was no listed cause for an additional 33 collisions.

The study also had disappointing news in that many drivers do not end up facing consequences for killing bicycle riders. Approximately 238 of the fatal accidents involved reckless driving, yet only 12 percent of the collisions resulted in the driver facing a criminal sentencing of any type.

A spokesperson for the League of American Bicyclists hopes that the report will cause state and local departments of transportation to take notice and to take action to improve conditions for riders.

The report also made clear that there are two major ways to improve conditions for riders: either behavior chances by people who use the roads or engineering changes by those who create and maintain roadways. Local lawmakers have control over engineering changes and can also help to facilitate behavioral changes by passing tougher laws to discourage drivers from taking dangerous risks.

When drivers make bad choices or violate safety rules, they should not only face criminal action but they can also be held legally responsible for the losses and damages that they caused. Family members of victims killed in collisions can take legal action to recovery monetary compensation for losses.

If you are injured in an accident in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.

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