Bicycle riding is a healthy way for adults to stay fit, relieve stress, and even avoid high gas prices on daily commutes. Unfortunately, there are many dangers threatening bikers of all ages as they ride on wooded trails and busy city streets. In this article, we explore the most likely injuries in bike accidents and help riders assess their risks to help them stay safe on the road.
The Most Common Bicycle Accident Injuries Involve the Head, Face, and Chest
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, bicycle accidents involving cars are most likely to cause injuries and death. In 2015, 818 bicyclists died and many more were injured after collisions with motor vehicles. In addition, most researchers agree that bike crash injury numbers are much higher, as only a small fraction of bicycle crashes are reported to police.
Statistics show that cyclists are most likely to suffer:
- Head injuries. Over 60 percent of cyclists who are killed in crashes suffer severe traumatic brain injury. On average, one in three people who survive a bike accident will suffer some kind of head injury such as a skull fracture, intracranial hemorrhage, brain contusion, or concussion. Head injuries are also associated with higher rates of long-term disabilities after a bicycle crash.
- Face and eye injuries. Riders can suffer anything from a broken tooth to a fracture of the nose and cheekbone after a crash. Injuries to the eyes are especially likely due to dust and accident debris that scratches the cornea, causing temporary or permanent blindness.
- Musculoskeletal injuries. The most common bone and ligament injuries are sprains, joint dislocation, and broken bones. Bone fractures are most likely to occur in the arms and the collarbone.
- Chest and abdominal injury. Bikers who are thrown from their bikes may suffer broken ribs or hernias, but are also at risk of internal bleeding and organ damage.
- Skin and soft tissue injuries. While cuts and scrapes caused by “road rash” are less likely to be fatal, deep lacerations and abrasions can cause disfiguring facial and body scars.
Know Your Bike Accident Risk Factors
One of the best things about accident data is that it allows bikers to know when and why they are most at risk of a crash. While some factors may be unavoidable, changing the route or the time of day you set out for a ride can greatly reduce the risk of severe injuries.
The most common risk factors in bike crashes include:
- Gender. Men are much more likely to suffer bicycle accidents than women.
- Age. Younger cyclists suffer more accidents than adults, but the majority of bike crash fatalities happen to riders over the age of 18.
- Time. Bike accidents are more likely to happen in the spring and summer months than other times of the year. The most accidents occur during the day, especially between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 to 6.00 p.m., but cycling accidents that happen after sunset are more likely to be fatal.
- Urban areas. Most cycling accidents occur at high speeds in well-traveled urban areas. Over 60% of bikers severely injured in accidents in 2015 were hurt in intersections or roundabouts—places where cyclists must travel in close proximity to cars.
- Unsafe riding. The majority of significant injuries were due to negligence on the part of the driver or the biker. The most common kinds of unsafe riding practices included failing to signal a turn, failure to wear proper reflective clothing, riding a broken or non-road-legal bike, performing tricks, riding while distracted by electronics, intoxication, and failing to wear helmet.
The easiest things bicyclists can do to protect themselves from injuries is to wear helmets and high-visibility clothing. Always make sure your bike is perfectly fitted to your height, that your bike is clean and working well, and that you make sure you are seen at all times on the road. If you were riding your bicycle and were struck by a car, we can help you take action. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.