Virginia Fatal Bicycle Accidents
The Virginia Highway Safety Office presents detailed statistics about fatal bicycle accidents that occur in the state, the most vulnerable demographic groups and the causes of such crashes. This information can be used to establish some statewide trends pertaining to the safety of bike commuting and the initiatives that could potentially lead to further improvements.
Fatal Bicycle Accidents: General Statistics
Virginia ranks among the safer states for biking in the country. It occupies the 38th position in the deadliest states for cyclists ranking according to federal data for 2012. The average annual deaths per million residents was 1.2 percent. Taking in consideration annual numbers, Virginia witnessed 12 biker fatalities in 2010, six in 2011 and 11 in 2012.
The latest Highway Safety Office report is for 2015. The number of people killed in biking accidents was 15 – a significant increase since the all-time low in 2011. These collisions represent two percent of all traffic fatalities that occurred during the year.
In addition, there were 661 injured bicyclists (657 were riders, and four people were bike passengers). These cases represent one percent of all the traffic injuries. The total number of bike collisions, 689, represents 0.5 percent of the statewide total.
The situation was more or less the same in 2014. Bicycle fatalities reached 12 or 1.7 percent. The number of injuries, however, was higher than the one for 2015 – 712 people experienced trauma (1.8 percent of all injury-causing collisions).
Cyclists actions have contributed to some accidents in 2015. In 318 cases, there was no violation on behalf of cyclists. A few common violations that have increased the likelihood of a crash include the following:
- Failure to yield – 134 cases
- Running traffic control – 59
- Riding left of center without passing – 28
- Improper lane change – 16
- Improper passing – 10
- Lights not on – 8
- Speeding or riding too fast – 3
Alcohol consumption by the bicyclist was a contributing factor in 11 collisions – 1.8 percent of the total number.
Most injury and death-causing collisions occurred in the 21 to 25 age group. There were 70 male and 31 female bicyclists participating in such crashes, representing 69.3 percent of the total number. Boys aged 10 to 14 ranked as another highly vulnerable group – there were 52 crashes involving males in this age group.
Safety Initiatives and Infrastructure Improvement
Safety initiatives are being carried out both on state and local level. Many communities in Virginia are actively engaged in maximizing awareness and encouraging safe riding practices. Infrastructural projects come on top of such campaigns, providing cyclists with good conditions for commuting and exercising.
The rights and responsibilities of cyclists are outlined in a well-developed legislative framework. The aim of many awareness campaigns over the past few years has been to acquaint cyclists with these regulations and reduce the risk of unsafe practices on their behalf.
Virginia has a statewide Bicycle Policy Plan that was drafted to accomplish two primary goals – to increase the use of bikes as a commuting method throughout the state and to improve the safety of cyclists.
Through the plan, the state provides guidance on the development and maintenance of biking infrastructure. In addition, it provides guidelines for the revision of existing policies to bring the number of crashes down. Staff training and guidance, coordination on bicycle opportunities and measurement of the right progress metrics are all set as primary goals in the plan. Upon its execution, additional statewide initiatives will be launched to maximize pedestrian safety, as well as the implementation of the policies that have been established under the first program.