Cycling Injuries and Deaths: Surprising Facts and Figures

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Over recent years, there has been considerable encouragement to take up or return to cycling. Indeed, the Department of Transport reveals an increase in cycle traffic, with a 1% rise being recorded in the last full year for which statistics are available, 2013. The current levels of pedal cycle traffic are 13% higher than the average pedal cycle traffic in the period 2005-9. However, with this increase in traffic, is a greater risk of injury and death for cyclists. For a brain injury solicitor, the concern is that more cyclists may be at risk of death and serious injury.

Detailed records are maintained to provide a picture of cycling outcomes, which show a dramatic change in our habits. Back in 1949, pedal cycle traffic accounted for 35% of all road traffic in Great Britain. Today, the percentage stands at just 1. However, the risk of death or serious injury remains. For statistical purposes, serious injury is defined as one where a person is detained in hospital as an “in patient”, or any of the following injuries whether or not they are detained in hospital: fractures, concussion, internal injuries, crushing, burns severe cuts, severe general shock requiring medical treatment and injuries causing death 30 or more days after the accident.

Cycling Related Casualties

Although cyclists only made up 1% of all traffic in 2013, they account for 11% of all casualties. Fortunately, the number of cycle related deaths had been on the decline, reaching a low of 104 in 2009. Since that time the figure has fluctuated, up to 120, although there is evidence of a further upward trend. Indeed, examining the preliminary figures for 2014, in the year ending June 2014, 3500 pedal cyclists were killed or seriously injured, representing an alarming 10% increase on the previous year. Indeed, there has been an increase year on year, since 2006.

These figures are disturbing, but perhaps only represent a tip of the iceberg. The statistics are collated from police authorities, but not all cycle related injuries are necessarily reported to the police. Indeed, it is stated that pedal cyclist non-fatal casualties are amongst the most likely to be under-reported, especially, where the pedal cyclist was the only vehicle in the accident.

An alternative source of cycling data can be extracted from hospital records, which reveals, in 2011, the number of cycling hospital admissions was more than 3 times the number of seriously injured casualties in accidents recorded by the police.

Cyclist Accidents and the Injuries Sustained

As to the age of those cycle related injury victims, young male cyclists in teenage years and early 20’s are the most over-represented male age group as killed or seriously injured casualties. In 2013 these young men made up about 30% of the killed or seriously injured casualties, but only made up for 25% of the miles cycled.

Analysis of more data reveals HGVs are disproportionately more likely to be involved in a cyclist death. Although HGVs only make up 5% of traffic, they were involved in about 25% of the deaths.

The range of data demonstrates a trend of increasing casualties for those who take their cycle to the road. For the vast majority of journeys taken, these will be safe and without incident.

However, for those who are killed or seriously injured, the impact may be life-long, for the victim and/or their families. There is little protection when riding a cycle and thus the risk of serious injury is probably disproportionately high, compared with car users. Where the cyclist sustains serious injury, particularly brain injury or spinal injury, they may benefit from seeking legal advice from a specialist brain injury solicitor or spinal injury solicitor, to determine if they may be entitled to compensation, including compensation for lost earnings, care, accommodation and medical treatment.

If you want to enquire about making a road traffic and cycling injury accident claim, please contact a member of our team on 01895 207 835 or 01895 207 295. Alternatively, you can send an email with your name and contact information and brief details as to the nature of the accident/clinical negligence and the injuries sustained to PI@ibblaw.co.uk and one of our team will be able to help you.