The number of bicyclists killed in the U.S. is increasing, according to a recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). The report, Spotlight on Highway Safety, published earlier this month, notes that the annual number of bicyclist deaths increased 16 percent between 2010 and 2012, particularly affecting adult males 20 years and older in urban settings. As mentioned in GHSA’s report, bicyclist fatalities are an urban phenomenon. It stated that urban-related bicycle deaths made up 69 percent of the total bicyclist deaths in 2012. There were 722 deaths total in 2012 alone. The increase in fatalities correlates with an increase in bicyclist commuters in cities around the U.S., particularly in California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Michigan and Texas. In addition, the majority of the victims were not wearing helmets and 25 percent of them were alcohol-impaired. The report goes on to list recommendations on how to reduce bicycle-related collisions and injuries. Suggested methods include law enforcement, increased education of lawful and appropriate behavior regarding bicyclist/motorist interactions, efforts to increase helmet usage and infrastructure changes to facilitate road sharing. GHSA also found some states are turning to “Complete Street” policies and implementing environmental and engineering changes to accommodate bicycles and motor vehicles traveling in the same direction. They are also making improvements at intersections, where 37 percent of bicyclist deaths occurred in 2012. Additional efforts have been made to improve road sharing and reduce bicyclist fatalities. For example, some automotive companies like Ford are working to install technology equipment in their vehicles that can detect pedestrians and bicycles and automatically brakes the vehicle. For more information on GHSA and the report visit www.GHSA.org.
In 2009 more than 214 Washingtonians lost their lives in speed and red-light running related collisions – more than half of those fatalities occurred at an intersection. Thanks to red-light safety cameras, driver behavior is now improving in the state of Washington.