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|Bicycle Traffic Accident
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported in 2005 that bicycle sales had reached a 30-year high. In addition, the
number of bicycles sold in 2007 surpassed the number of motor vehicles that were sold the same year. These
are telling statistics because they illustrate how many bicyclists are among U.S. roadways.
Bicycle accident reconstruction requires a unique analysis due to the unusual dynamic interaction that takes place
when vehicles and bicyclists collide. At impact, the motion of the bicyclist is contingent upon a number of
variables, such as the size of the rider or the speed and configuration of the vehicle.
In addition, there are often significant environmental factors that can affect a bicycle accident, such as roadway
configuration or lighting. One of the leading causes of bicycle related traffic accidents is a failure of the motorist to
see the bicyclist due to inattention.
This is not to say that when a car and bicycle collide, that the bicyclist is always without fault. Bicyclists, just like
motorists, can fail to yield the right of way or operate their bicycle in a reckless fashion. Many states, such as
Illinois, have specific traffic laws relating to the operation of a bicycle on a roadway.
Regardless of how a vehicle and bicycle collide, the crash will generally involve injury to the bicyclist. About 75%
of fatal or incapacitating injuries arise out of serious head trauma. Yet even when proper precautions, such as
helmet use, are observed by riders, there is still a substantial risk of injury in the event of an accident. Experts
estimate that 70% of bicycle accidents result in the bicyclist requiring emergency medical attention or
In addition, Illinois bicycle traffic accident fatalities and statistics are maintained by the Illinois Department of
To read about Illlinois' 2008 bicycle crash statistics, please click here.
In November of 2006, NHTSA published a national guideline aimed at increasing bicycle safety, including specific
references to helmet use and rider awareness.
To read NHTSA publication, please click here.
The front end height of a vehicle is one of the most
influential variables affecting the dynamic interaction
between a bicyclist and a motor vehicle.
When struck by a low front end vehicle, the bicyclist
can slap the hood or windshield of the vehicle before
being projected up the roadway.
Depending on the type of collision, equations, both
theoretical and empirical, may exist to derive impact
speed for the striking vehicle.
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