Reports are the driver, later identified as a 50-year-old man from Battle Creek, was driving erratically when he nearly clipped a pedestrian and then plowed into nine bicyclists recently, killing five and injuring four. He has been charged with four counts of reckless driving causing serious impairment and five counts of second-degree murder. He faces life in prison if convicted. Officials suspect – though have not confirmed – that he may have been under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Authorities have said they do not believe the incident was premeditated.
This senseless and almost certainly unavoidable accident has highlighted once again the peril so many pedalcyclists face every time they take to the roads.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), leaning on data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, revealed that in 2014, there were 551 adult males who died in bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles. That is the highest number of deaths in this category since the agency started keeping track back in 1975.
Also last year, there were 68 adult women killed in bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles.
On the other hand, fatalities of bicyclists under the age of 20 has fallen precipitously in recent years, with 81 boys and 13 girls killed in 2014. Overall that year, there were 720 bicyclists killed. Although the rate nationally had been inching upward in recent years, the good news is that it actually fell 4 percent from 2013 to 2014 (when there were 743 bicyclist deaths). Plus, that 720 figure also represents an overall drop of 28 percent since 1975.
However, our work is not done.
Here in South Carolina, there were 15 bicyclists killed in 2013, which was an increase from the previous year, when 13 died.
In North Carolina, the NHTSA reports there were 22 bicyclists killed in 2013, which was a slight drop from the 27 who died the year before.
Still, this problem of rising number of older male riders being afflicted with rising rates of bicycle accident injuries and deaths is deeply troubling. Traffic safety experts from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, a branch of the University of North Carolina’s Highway Safety Research Center, opines there could be a number of factors going on, including:
- Adult male riders may be riding more;
- Adult male riders may be less prone to wear a helmet.
However, there is a lack of data to be able to say definitively because many states don’t tally the number of bicycle accidents as diligently as they do motor vehicle crashes. A lot of cases, bicycle accidents that involve a single rider aren’t even reported to police unless the injuries are very serious.
As we are now in the midst of summer, we’ll see an uptick in bicycle accidents in both North Carolina and South Carolina, with more people commuting by bicycle, riding for recreational or taking advantage of bike-sharing programs.
It’s worth noting that bicycles in North Carolina and South Carolina are considered vehicles, and deserve the same respect and courtesy on the road as anyone in a car.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Michigan Bike Crash Highlights Dangers for Adult Riders, June 11, 2016, By Erik Ortiz, NBC News
More Blog Entries:
It’s No Accident: Associated Press Updates Style Guide to Use “Crash” Instead, June 5, 2016, Spartanburg Accident Lawyer Blog