Bicycle Accidents Involving College Students

Bicycle Accidents Involving College Students and What You Can Do to Stay Safe

College students often use bicycles to get from one part of campus to another. That’s why bicycle accidents have become a real risk students face every day. Just ask any Philadelphia bicycle accident lawyer or an attorney in other college-centered cities like Boston or Austin, TX.

No matter where you go to college, it’s important to understand the risks cyclists face and what you can do to stay safe on the road. That’s why we’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions college students have about bicycle accidents.

What age group sustains the most cycling accident injuries?

The highest injury rate for cycling accidents involves cyclists 16 to 20 years old, according to the most recent statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2011. That year, 8,000 cyclists were injured in accidents, giving these older teenagers an injury rate of 380 accidents per 1,000 people. In contrast, the next highest bicycle accident injury rate was 276 accidents per 1,000 people for cyclists aged 10 to 15 years old. The bottom line is college-age students face the greatest risk of being injured in bicycle accidents.

What age group is involved in the most fatal cycling accidents?

The average age of cycling fatality victims has increased steadily every year between 2002 and 2011, according to the NHTSA:

  • In 2002, the average age of people killed in cycling accidents was 36 years old.
  • In 2011, the average age of people killed in cycling accidents was 43 years old.

As for various age ranges, cyclists between the ages of 45 and 54 years old had the highest cycling fatality rate of 3.51 deaths per 1,000 people and a total of 157 fatalities in 2011. What do these numbers mean? That means bicycles aren’t just for kids any more. And more adults – including college students – use bicycles as a regular means of transportation.

Are bicycle accidents more common than other motor vehicle accidents?

Yes. In recent years, bicycle accidents have become more common nationwide. Consider the statistics compiled by NHTSA between 2002 and 2011:

  • In 2002, there were 665 bicycle fatalities, which represented 1.5 percent of all traffic fatalities (43,005) that year.
  • In 2011, there were 677 bicycle fatalities, which represented 2.1 percent of all traffic fatalities (32,367) that year.

So while the overall number of traffic fatalities has declined steadily every year, more cyclists are being killed on the road. The worst year for cycling fatalities in recent years was 2005, when 786 cyclists died in accidents.

Where do most bicycle accidents occur? Cities or rural areas?

The overwhelming majority of bicycle accidents occur in urban areas at non intersections. In 2011, a total of 69 percent of fatal bicycle accidents occurred in urban areas and 59 percent occurred at non-intersections.

Such statistics suggest that cyclists riding alongside the road in a city face the greatest risk of being involved in a fatal bicycle accident. As a result, college students who bike in large cities like Philadelphia, Boston, New York and Washington, DC need to stay alert at all times.

When do most bicycle accidents happen? During the day or at night?

People cycling between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. face the greatest risk of being killed in a bicycle accident, according to statistics compiled by the NHTSA. Specifically, 30 percent of cyclists killed in 2011 were cycling between those hours. The next highest number of fatalities (21 percent) occurred between 8 p.m. and midnight.

That means college students riding to or from class or work late in the day or early in the evening need to stay alert. The same goes for college students who ride bicycles at night to visit friends or go out.

Is alcohol a factor in bicycle accident fatalities?

Yes. In more than one-quarter (28 percent) of cycling fatalities in 2011, cyclists had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.01 or higher. And of those 28 percent who drank alcohol and rode a bicycle, 23 percent had a BAC of 0.08 or higher, which is above the legal limit in most states.

Such statistics should raise an immediate red flag for many college students. Many people are widely aware of the dangers posed by drinking and driving. But few college students likely consider the risks of riding a bicycle while drunk. Don’t do it. Drinking and cycling can be a dangerous combination.

What can college students do to avoid a bicycle accident?

So what should a college student do to avoid being involved in a bicycle accident? Here are some helpful hints that will hopefully keep you safe on the road:

  • Wear a helmet – Even if you think you’re a safe cyclist, all it takes is one mistake by one reckless driver to cause a serious bicycle accident that result in a life-altering traumatic head injury.
  • Wear bright colors – Make sure drivers can see you on your bicycle. Wear a reflective top that makes you clearly visible at dusk or at night.
  • Obey the rules – Even though you’re not in car, that doesn’t mean the rules of the road don’t apply to you. Follow the same rules you would if you were driving a car.
  • Watch parked cars – Cyclists are often so focused on cars on the road it’s sometimes easy to forget about parked cars. If someone opens a door without warning, you could suddenly find yourself involved in a serious bicycle accident.
  • Use a light – If you’re riding your bike at night, make sure you have a light on the front of your bike, a red reflector on back and reflective tape on your equipment or clothing.
  • Play it safe – Even if you have the right of way, even if you’re following the rules of the road, don’t put your safety at risk just because a reckless driver is not respecting your space on the road. No one wins if you’re injured in a bicycle accident. Play it safe. Pull over if necessary and make sure your safety always comes first.


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