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Bicyclists and Pedestrian Deaths Increasing with Distracted Drivers

Distracted car driver on a cell phone.
Above photo shows a distracted car driver on a cell phone.

Recent years the national traffic data has shown an increase in bicyclist and pedestrian deaths caused by distracted driving, while other traffic-related deaths have decreased.

There were approximately 130 more people killed during 2011 in pedestrian-related deaths, than in 2010, which is a 3% increase. In this same year, the end of bicycle riders also increased at a rate of 8% or 54 individuals, at the same time other motor vehicle deaths were decreasing.

What is the Public Health Data on Bike Accidents?.

The data during recent years did not fully explain the reasons for the rising deaths of pedestrians or bicyclists. At the same time, the media focused on issues such as distracted walking or being under the influence while walking. In the Public Health Reports, a journal by the U.S. Public Health Service and the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General revealed a new study.

Media Versus Reality. Compare and Contrast.

In this study, the increase in these types of fatalities does not go along with what the media has focused on reporting. Instead, the data shows distracted driving is responsible for this increase in deaths — such things like texting while driving is to blame.

Researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center used the Fatality Analysis Reporting System to study the data of fatal collisions. The information basis comes from the years 2005 through 2010. The study found a sharp increase in pedestrian and bicyclists deaths during these years. In fact, distracted driving was a factor in these collisions.

  • The numbers of fatalities during these years went from 2005 with 344 deaths to 2010 with 500 deaths. Above all else, distracted driving remained listed as a cause.
  • Bicycle deaths during that period rose from 56 to 73 casualties.
  • Combined pedestrian and bike rider fatalities accounted for about one in ten traffic deaths.
  • Cell phone use was a leading cause of 18.6%.

But other reasons for distraction were listed.

  • These included changing radio stations.
  • In fact, even tending to a child or eating while driving remained causes.

According to one researcher, Fernando Wilson, the biggest problem is that pedestrians and bicyclists do not have protection in a collision with a motor vehicle. For example, in a car, you have a safety cage and bumpers.

Wilson is one of the study’s authors and a professor at the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He believes non-motorized and motorized forms of travel, such as bike lanes will reduce the increase in deaths.


Michael Ehline, Bicycle Lawyer

Michael P. Ehline, the bicycle lawyer, takes cycling sports like mountain biking, seriously. As a tort attorney, he specializes in protecting the rights of riders hurt by another’s fault.

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