Bicycle Accident Statistics in the United States

Get key statistics about bicycle accidents, including the time of day when accidents happen, how helmet use affects the outcome, age and gender of cyclists killed in bike accidents, and more.

Biking can be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, it can sometimes also be deadly, especially if you live in a city without bike lanes or other bicycle safety precautions.

This article will review some enlightening statistics about bicycle accident injuries and deaths in the United States. We will also look at what causes bicycle accidents and injuries.

Notable Statistics:

  • Just over 1,000 people were killed in bicycle accidents in 2018.
  • Over 300,000 people in 2018 ended up in the emergency room for bicycle accidents.
  • In 2017, over 8 times more men were killed in bicycle accidents than women.
  • More than half of bicycle-motor vehicle crashes involve intersections.

Cyclist Fatalities

bicycle traffic fatalities graphic

The fatal injury data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 1,024 people were killed in bicycle accidents in 2018, including non-traffic accidents.

In 2015, 45,000 bicyclists were injured in accidents involving motor vehicle traffic crashes, and 818 were killed, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In 2018, NHTSA reported that the number of bicycle traffic fatalities rose to 857 cyclists killed in traffic crashes in the United States.

NHTSA’s traffic safety facts show that bicycle accident fatalities have represented 2% of total motor vehicle fatalities each year from 1980 to 2015.

Nonfatal Cyclist Injuries

According to nonfatal injury data on CDC.gov, there were 306,133 emergency department visits in 2018 for nonfatal injuries related to bicycle accidents. Bicycle accidents were a top-18 cause of nonfatal emergency department visits for every age group in 2018 and were as high as the number eight cause for children ages 5-9 and 10-14.

Non-fatal bike injuries stats

A study of hospitalizations for bicycling injuries between 2002 to 2009 found that an estimated 6,877 people were hospitalized for injuries caused by a motor vehicle crash, and 18,457 people were hospitalized for non-motor vehicle bicycle accidents.

These hospitalizations resulted in over $1 billion in hospital charges each year, averaging to $425 million for motor vehicle crashes and $588 million for non-motor vehicle crashes.

The study also found that, even though non-motor vehicle accidents accounted for nearly 2.7 times more hospitalizations than accidents involving motor vehicles, crashes with motor vehicles caused extended hospital stays. This resulted in costs 72% higher than the same expenses for non-motor vehicle collisions.

Ages of Bicyclists Killed in Bike Accidents

NHTSA data regarding the age groups with the largest percentage of bicyclist fatalities are summarized in the table below.

Age ranges of bicycle fatalities

IIHS also determined that bicyclists younger than 20 were more likely to be killed on smaller roads than cyclists aged 20 and older (44% versus 28%).

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) analyzed bicycle safety data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and found that 87% of people killed in bicycle accidents in 2018 were 20 or older. Cyclist deaths among people under 20 have declined 89% since 1975, while cyclist deaths among people aged 20 and older have tripled.

Genders of Cyclists Killed in Bike Accidents

IIHS also found that in every year since 1975, men were killed in bicycle crashes at much higher rates than female bicyclists in accidents with motor vehicles. The decline in bicycle fatalities since 1975 among women (38%) was three times the decline among men (12%).

Bike fatalities by gender

NHTSA reported that 89% of cyclists killed in 2017 were men, while only 11% were female. This makes the male fatality rate over eight times higher than the female fatality rate in 2017.

Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents

NHTSA reports that 51% of bicycle crashes involving motor vehicles occurred at or involved intersections. The most common type of accident involved cyclists riding through intersections and into a motor vehicle’s path. The second most common cause of bicycle-car accidents was motor vehicle drivers failing to yield at intersections.

Locations of bicycle fatalities

Another common cause of bicycle accidents is motorists turning or merging into a parallel moving bicyclist’s path. Child cyclists were overrepresented in bike crashes caused by the cyclist’s failure to yield at an intersection. Adult bicyclists were overrepresented in bike crashes where motorists turned in front of the bicycle’s path in an intersection.

IIHS’s analysis of FARS data showed that, among bicyclists aged 16 or older who were killed in 2018, 20% had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. IIHS also found that 63% of 2018 bicycle deaths occurred on major roads (often in urban areas), and 29% occurred on smaller roads (usually in rural areas).

Time of Day When Fatal Bicycle Accidents Occur

According to an NHTSA report, bicyclist deaths most often occurred between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. NHTSA’s seasonal data for the time of day when fatal accidents occur is summarized below (ex. in winter, 25% of cyclist deaths occur between 6-9pm).

Timing of bike accident deaths

Winter (January, February, and the Following December)

  • 25% of fatalities occurred between 6 p.m and 9 p.m.
  • 15% of fatalities occurred between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Spring (March To May)

  • 21% of fatalities occurred between 9 p.m and 12 a.m.
  • 19% of fatalities occurred between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
  • 16% of fatalities occurred between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Summer (June To August)

  • 21% of fatalities occurred between 9 p.m and 12 a.m.
  • 15% of fatalities occurred between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
  • 14% of fatalities occurred between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Fall (September To November)

  • 21% of fatalities occurred between 6 p.m and 9 p.m.
  • 19% of fatalities occurred between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.
  • 13% of fatalities occurred between 9 p.m. and 12 a.m.

Bicycle Helmet Use and Bicycle Injuries

Cyclists killed without helmet

FARS data, as analyzed by IIHS, showed that 61% of cyclists killed in 2018 were not wearing a bicycle helmet, and the helmet use status was unknown for another 24%.

A study sponsored by the University of California at Los Angeles on bicycle helmet safety and bicycle-related trauma injury outcomes showed that only 22% of the patients with head or neck injuries evaluated reported wearing helmets when involved in their bicycling accident.

Another study of the effectiveness of helmets in bicycle collisions with motor vehicles found bicycle helmet use to be associated with up to a 74% reduction in head injury risk. The study found that with more serious injuries, the reduction of risk created by helmet use was even more significant.

If you or a family member has been injured in a bicycle accident, you may be able to receive compensation.

Contact a local personal injury lawyer for a free consultation and case evaluation.

Amy Grover is a licensed attorney in the state of Ohio. After graduating magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, then passing the bar exam in 2014, Amy began her diverse career as a practicing attorney. Amy has a range of experience in the legal field, including work with the Department... Read More >>