OHIO FATAL BICYCLE ACCIDENT STATISTICS
The Ohio Department of Public Safety annually publishes an accident statistics report that includes bicycle accident data. The most comprehensive fatal bicycle statistics come from data collected in 2013, with the most recent preliminary data released for 2015.
During 2013, Ohio experienced 19 bicycle accident-related fatalities. More than 200 cyclists suffered devastating injuries that required extended health care at a hospital or medical center. With five deaths, the cyclists between 51 and 55 years old represented the age demographic that experienced the most bicycle accident-related fatalities.
Most of the bicycle incidents in 2013 happened during the day, with 13 fatal crashes and more than 1,000 accidents occurring when the sun was shining. The number of daylight bike crashes was significantly more than the next most dangerous time of the day, which was cycling at night on a lit road. This period delivered just two cycling accident-related fatalities and more than 150 injured cyclists. The reason for the high number of daylight bicycle deaths and fatalities is because of substantially more bicycle traffic during the day.
Two years after the release of the comprehensive bicycle statistics, the State of Ohio released a much more streamlined set of statistics for the year 2015. The rapid increase in the number of cyclists taking to Ohio roads produced a preliminary report that presented more accidents and fatalities. Bicycle accidents caused by crashes with a motor vehicle remained the leading cause of death for cyclists in 2015.
Five children between age 6 and 15 died in 2015 as a result of a bicycle accident, which represented an increase in the number of children killed because of bicycle accidents in 2013. Despite more awareness of bicycle safety tips, the number of adult bicycle-related accidents and fatalities in 2015was about the same as the number of adult bicycle accidents and fatalities that happened during 2013.
As of the end of August 2015, the State of Ohio reported 683 bike accidents, of which 12 cyclists lost their lives. Eighty-eight of the crashes caused debilitating injuries, and more than 300 of the accidents resulted in brief medical care.
Most Dangerous Counties
During a five-year period between 2011 and 2015, Ohio counties Lima and Allen recorded the most bicycle accidents per capita than any other county of similar medium size and population. Lima County reported 222 bicycles crashed for every 100,000 residents, while Allen County reported 105 bicycle crashes for every 100,000 residents of the county. The Lima-Allen County Regional Planning Commission released the bicycle accident statistics in the middle of 2016.
“When a car hits a pedestrian or bike, there is nothing minor about it,” commented Tom Mazur, who is the executive director of the Lima-Allen County Regional Planning Commission. Mazur pointed out that although the statistics are alarming, the good news is the numbers have motivated local lawmakers to implement measures that address bicycle accidents. For example, both counties have coordinated a plan to add more bike lanes to keep cyclists off paved roads.
Ohio 3-Foot Law
Bicyclists have few protective options for ensuring safety while riding along Ohio roads. Data indicates wearing a helmet reduces the likelihood of dying from a bicycle accident, but skeptics still argue bike helmets do nothing to prevent serious brain injuries. Ohio is one of 29 states that have not passed a mandatory bicyclist helmet law, although that could partially change with the passage of Ohio House Bill 93 requiring cyclists under the age of 18 to wear a bicycle helmet. Adults can still ride without wearing a helmet.
The lack of a mandatory helmet law has prompted some Ohio legislators to consider alternative legal remedies to enhance rider safety. One such law recently passed requires motorists to leave at least three feet of space between their vehicles and cyclists, whenever motorists pass bicyclists on a paved road. Ohio House Bill 154 became law March 21, 2017. However, the new law received little, if any publicity from the mainstream media, which leaves thousands of motorists clueless as to the existence of the new statute.
Any driver who violates the new three-foot rule faces a possible misdemeanor charge and a fine up to $150.
Ohio represents the 40th state in the United States to pass some form of safe distance passing law, although major cities such as Cleveland and Cincinnati already had similar laws on the books. Supporters of the new three-foot law expect bicycle accident rates, as well as the number of bike-related fatalities, to decline. Some Ohio legislators have written additional bicycle safety bills, but none of the legislation has come up for debate as of August 2017.