Includes highway safety publications and journals on road maintenance, engineering and injury litigation, as well as traffic safety facts, accident and collision investigation information and consulting, court and liability issues, and links to transportation related organizations such as departments of transportation and safety organizations.  Also includes discussion of road construction issues, legal cases on traffic accidents and collisions, and other information on highway safety.  See our highway safety expert services and publications.
Road Injury Prevention & Litigation Journal
Copyright © 1997 by TranSafety, Inc.
August 10, 1997
TranSafety, Inc.
(360) 683-6276
Fax: (360) 335-6402
transafety@live.com
















County May Owe Duty to Intoxicated Driver and Deceased Passengers If Edge Dropoff Contributing Cause of Crash
Injury to Child Leaving Ice-Cream Truck Did Not Result from Dangerous Condition or Nuisance Created by California City
Michigan City Immune from Liability When No Admissible Evidence Showed Intersection Was Unsafe
Can Graduated Licensing Lessen Risks for Young Drivers?
Washington State Study Focused on Bicycle-Collision Statistics from 1988-1993
Automotive Engineering Describes Effectiveness of Restraints and Air Bags in Preventing Injuries to Children

Highway Safety Publications Catalog. Articles on Road Engineering, Road Maintenance & Management, and Injury Litigation. Information and consulting for the Automobile and Road User, as well as for law professionals in accident investigations.
TranSafety's free consumer journal for automobile and road users, three subscription journals on road maintenance, engineering, and injury litigation, and highway safety publications catalog. See our free consumer journal for automobile and road users, three subscription journals on road maintenance, engineering, and injury litigation, and a highway safety publications catalog.


Washington State Study Focused on Bicycle-Collision Statistics from 1988-1993

Historically, statistics on bicycle collisions have not found their way into overall statistical records on collisions in Washington State. Often bicycle collisions do not meet the collision-reporting criteria set forth by state statute and, subsequently, do not become part of the data. In an effort to increase the knowledge base about bicycle collisions and improve highway/traffic safety, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) conducted a study on bicycle collisions in Washington State from 1988 through 1993, using data compiled by the Washington State Patrol (WSP). Ralph L. Wessels discussed the study and its report in "Bicycle Collisions in Washington State: A Six-Year Perspective, 1988-1993" (Transportation Research Record 1538).

BACKGROUND

This study used demographic data from the 1990 census. By means of a modified version of the Cross/Fisher bicycle-collision collection method, the study identified 22 collision categories, with collision types delineated by geographical area, age group, and road ownership. Statistics regarding bicycle helmets were considered negligible, since only two jurisdictions had mandatory helmet laws during the study period and enforcement had been limited. Researchers classified roadways by the following five functional types: interstate, state routes, county roads, city streets, and other roads.

RESULTS

Except for recognizing an overall annual increase in the number of reported bicycle collisions, the author cautioned against basing trend assumptions on this collision data, since factors related to bicycle collisions vary from year to year.

Bicycle collisions during the years studied occurred most often between April and October, and they happened primarily between 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Eighty-two percent of the collisions in the study were during daylight hours, mostly in clear or cloudy weather. While males accounted for 80 percent of bicyclists involved in the collisions, researchers viewed this overrepresentation as primarily the result of a higher exposure to potential collisions rather than as a gender-related factor. Approximately 1 percent of motorists and bicyclists involved in reported collisions had been drinking. For fatal collisions, the frequency of alcohol involvement rose to 9 percent for motorists and 11 for cyclists.

Approximately half of all bicycle collisions involved cyclists aged 15 or less, with those age 10 to 15 comprising the largest segment of this group. In fact, the 10-to-15 age category had almost twice the collision rate of the next-highest groups' rates, ages 5 to 9 and 16 to 24. Of particular significance was the comparatively high number of serious collisions involving ages 5 to 9 and 10 to 15 on county roads.

Results of this study correlated closely with other national data, which show the five most common factors involved in bicyclist fatalities are: failure to yield (23 percent), improper crossing of roadway or intersection (15 percent), failure to obey traffic control devices (9 percent), failure to keep in proper lane (8 percent), and operating without required equipment (5 percent).

Results were summarized in relation to five functional classes of roadway. The article reported data for four of these categories: city streets, county roads, state routes, and the interstate system. The fifth category, other roads, recorded only 4 of the 325 collisions during the study period.

City Streets

City streets accounted for 65 percent of bicycle collisions, followed by county roads and state routes. While the majority of bicycle collisions happened on city streets, those collisions made up only a third (33 percent) of bicycle collision fatalities. Most fatalities on city streets happened at intersections, and "motorist action at intersections accounted for a high 30% of the total bicycle collisions on city streets."

County Roads

County roads were the location of 21 percent of all collisions and 45 percent of the fatalities. Of the five functional types of roadways analyzed, county roads had the highest percentage of bicyclists being struck from behind by motorists. In addition, the percent of cyclists turning or swerving on county roads was nearly twice that of all roads (probably a result of narrower lanes, poor shoulder conditions, and limited sight distance). Most fatalities involving a bicyclist entering or exiting a roadway at a midblock location also occurred on county roads. Of note is the "surprisingly low" (15 percent) number of collisions on county roads that were attributable to motorist action.

State Routes

On state routes, intersection collisions made up close to half (45 percent) of bicycle collisions, while "bicyclists riding the wrong way accounted for a significant 21 percent of collisions. Half of the fatalities involved the bicyclist turning or swerving at a location that was not an intersection."

Interstate System

Washington is one of only a few states to allow bicyclists on interstate shoulders, and results indicated relatively few bicycle collisions took place on interstate roadways. However, while state and interstate systems made up only 13 percent and 1 percent respectively of all collisions, they accounted for 18 percent and 4 percent of all fatalities. As such, "roads with higher driving speeds are the locations of more fatalities proportional to the overall number of accidents."

CONCLUSIONS/IMPLICATIONS

Many people think that motorists striking bicyclists from behind represent the majority of bicycle collisions, and decision makers have considered improving the safety of bicyclists by having them ride against traffic. This study revealed, however, that "the number of bicycle collisions in which a bicyclist was riding the wrong way is two and one-half times the number of collisions in which a bicyclist was struck from behind by a motor vehicle." Moreover, being struck from behind accounted for only 5.7 percent of all collisions. Again, the 5-to-9 and 10-to-15 age groups were most involved. Of note is the fact that bicyclists being hit from behind and bicyclists turning or swerving accounted for 12 percent of bicycle collisions but constituted 40 percent of fatalities.

The study provided information that can be used by a variety of groups interested in improving and promoting bicycle safety. In fact, "the report has become a key component of WSDOT's nonmotorized Safety Management System (SMS). . . ." Moreover, the report would suggest that a key area for action should be education, not only of bicyclists and motorists but also of policymakers and decision makers, whose information on bicycle issues can be incorrect and short-sighted. The author concluded:

Safety-improvement programs that only use motor-vehicle collision records to determine safety improvements are inherently biased against bicycles as a transportation mode. A change in the reporting requirements for bicycle collisions is necessary to allow problem areas to be better identified and safety improvements to be specifically targeted toward bicycles.

Safety-improvement programs that only use motor-vehicle collision records to determine safety improvements are inherently biased against bicycles as a transportation mode. A change in the reporting requirements for bicycle collisions is necessary to allow problem areas to be better identified and safety improvements to be specifically targeted toward bicycles.

Copyright © 1997 by TranSafety, Inc.


Back to the Road Injury Prevention & Litigation Journal Index