Bicycle Safety

Bicycle Safety

Each year in Utah, an average of 372 bicyclists are injured in crashes with motor vehicles and five are killed. The year 2012 had the highest bicyclist crash rate in the last 10 years at 3.2 per 10,000 population. Nearly half (47.3% of known) of the bicyclists in crashes were under 25 years of age. Children ages 0 to 14 made up approximately 18% of all bicyclists in crashes (1).

"Please be alert near crosswalks, and slow down below the speed limit anytime your vision is impaired, especially near pedestrians."

Family of Andrew Tolman, a 16-year-old hit and killed while riding his bike

Bicycle crashes cost victims and communities millions of dollars annually. In Utah, the total hospitalization charges to treat bicyclists injured in crashes with motor vehicles exceeded $2 million in 2012 alone (6).

Helmet Laws

Wearing a helmet is the single most effective way of reducing head injuries and deaths from a bicycle crashes. Only 32.4% of bicyclists in traffic crashes in Utah were wearing a helmet. More children ages 5 to 14 are seen in emergency rooms for injuries related to biking than any other sport. Helmets can reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by 88% – yet only 45% of children 14 and under usually wear a bike helmet (2-4).

Utah is one of 29 states with no state bicycle helmet law (5). States with bicycle helmet laws have significantly higher helmet usage rates than states without laws. In 2002, a study was conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission which concluded helmet laws increased helmet use by 8.4%. A full list of the laws that apply to bicyclists can be found in sections Title 41, Chapter 6a of the Utah Code, available online at http://le.utah.gov/UtahCode/title.jsp. By obeying the rules of the road, nearly all bicycle crashes are preventable.

References

  1. 2012 Utah Crash Summary Report
  2. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Facts: Bicycle Helmet Use Laws 2008
  3. Thompson RS, et al. A case-control study of the effectiveness of bicycle helmets. N Engl J Med 1989; 320(21):1361-1367
  4. Safe Kids Worldwide
  5. Governors Highway Safety Association
  6. Indicator Based Information System for Public Health