With many Indiana children receiving bicycles for Christmas, it is a good time to consider one of the most important safety features to purchase with that new bike: A Helmet! Even as the number of people killed in auto and motorcycling accidents continues to drop, there has actually been an increase in the number of people killed in bicycle accidents. According to a new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association, in 2012, there was a significant 16% increase in fatalities recorded across the country, compared to the previous year.
The report found that bicyclist fatalities in the United States increased from 621 deaths in 2010 to 680 deaths in 2011, and 722 deaths in 2012. During this same time period, there was a 1% increase in other types of accident fatalities. According to the report bicyclist fatalities have comprised approximately 2% of all accident fatalities across the country since 1975.
In Indiana, bicycle accident fatalities dropped in 2011, only to spike again in 2012: 13 bicycle accident fatalities occurred in 2010, with 11 accidents in 2011. However, in 2012 the number of accidents increased again to 15.
The Governors Highway Safety Association report clearly blames a lack of helmet use by bicyclist as the major contributing factor in bicycle accident fatalities. Many fatalities in 2012 involved serious head trauma. As many as 17% of bicyclists killed were wearing helmets at the time, but 65 % were not wearing helmets at all.
Males comprised a significant portion of bicycle accident fatalities in 2012, accounting for 88% of all bicycle accident fatalities. That was an increase from 82% back in 1975. Males above the age of 20 accounted for close to three- quarters of all bicycle fatalities in 2012.
Most concerning, urban areas are now hot-zones for bicycle accidents, with more fatalities likely in urban areas than in rural areas. Those rates increased from 50% in 1975 to 69% of fatalities occurring in urban areas in 2012. Many fatalities occurred at intersections, comprising 37% of all fatalities.
The GHSA suggests that increased helmet usage rates, can help keep bicyclists safer. However, it also must be noted that even when bicyclists are wearing a helmet, they are still at risk of fatalities or serious injuries. A helmet for instance, cannot help protect the bicyclist from spinal injuries, nor guarantee 100% protection from head injuries. What is needed is for more awareness of bicyclist rights and increased enforcement of laws to protect bicyclists.
If you have suffered injuries in a bicycle accident in Indiana, you are likely eligible for compensation that includes medical costs, lost income and other damages.