What Percentage of All Bicycle Accidents Involve a Truck?

Anyone can be injured when an accident occurs, but bicyclists may be more vulnerable than anyone else on the road.  Passengers in cars and trucks are protected by seatbelts, airbags, and enclosing walls.  Motorcyclists, though also highly vulnerable, are often protected by helmets and thick leather gear.  Cyclists have only helmets to shield them from injury, leaving them almost completely exposed when a crash or collision occurs.  There can be no doubt that the risk of injury or death is high, even for experienced cyclists.  The better question is, how often are trucks and other vehicles responsible?  Salt Lake City bicycle accident lawyer Darwin Overson examines accident statistics to find the answer.

Utah Bicycle Accident Statistics: Crashes with Other Motor Vehicles

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Auto accidents and bicycle crashes can be split into two categories: single-vehicle accidents, and multi-vehicle accidents.  Single-vehicle accidents typically occur because the driver or cyclist made an error, or because their vehicle featured a hidden defect, sometimes giving rise to a product liability claim.  Multi-vehicle accidents are more complex, but in many cases, one person is at fault for the crash.  When it comes to bicycle accidents, this person is often the driver of a truck or automobile.

Recent statistics attest to this fact.  According to the Utah Department of Public Safety, 752 bicycle-motor vehicle crashes were reported in 2014: about two crashes every day of the year, or one every 11 hours, on average.  Tragically, nine bicyclists lost their lives because of these accidents, while another 685 were injured.  Only 69 cyclists were neither killed nor injured when crashes with other vehicles occurred.  Framed another way, nearly 91% of the cyclists who were hit by vehicles either died or suffered injuries, whereas only 9% evaded harm.

Many of these collisions occurred because the drivers of other vehicles made mistakes which they should have avoided.  For example, in 38% of the collisions, the driver – not the cyclist – failed to yield the right-of-way.  In 6% of the crashes, the driver was distracted by something, such as an app or radio station, and wasn’t paying attention to the road.  In 5% of the collisions, the driver made an improper turn (39% were turning right, while 17% were turning left).

How Many Bicyclists Are Killed by Collisions with Trucks or Cars?

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The Department of Public Safety does not provide data on how many Utah bicycle accidents were caused specifically by trucks as opposed to SUVs, vans, motorcycles, or other vehicles.  However, information about bicycle-truck collisions is available through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a federal agency that tracks accident data at the national level.

According to NHTSA data, “3,903 people [were] killed and an estimated 111,000 people [were] injured in crashes involving large trucks,” like 18-wheelers, in 2014.  About 73% of the people who were killed were occupants of other vehicles (like cars), 17% were truck occupants, and the remaining 10% were “non-occupants,” meaning mainly pedestrians and bicyclists.  Among people who were non-fatally injured, 74% were occupants of other vehicles, 23% were truck occupants, and just 3% were non-occupants.

Based on this data, a larger proportion of non-occupants are killed (10%) than are non-fatally injured (3%) when they are in a truck accident.  The question is, how many of the “non-occupant” victims were pedestrians, and how many of them were cyclists?

About 389 non-occupants – the 10% figure – were killed in large truck accidents in 2014.  A separate NHTSA report on pedestrian accidents reveals that 243 pedestrians were killed by large trucks in 2014, which means that at least 243 out of the 389 large truck-related non-occupant deaths must have involved pedestrians.

That leaves 146 non-pedestrian fatalities unaccounted for.  At least 59 of these fatalities must have involved cyclists, because an NHTSA analysis of bicycle accidents shows that 59 cyclists were killed by large trucks in 2014.  If at least 59 of the 389 non-occupant deaths were cyclists who were killed by large trucks, then at least 15% of the non-occupant fatalities from large truck accidents in 2014 must have been cyclists.

While that’s not an insignificant number, cyclists are more likely to be killed by cars and passenger trucks than they are by large trucks.  According to the 2014 NHTSA report on bicycle accidents, 59 cyclists were killed by large trucks – but 275 were killed by passenger cars, and 308 were killed by passenger trucks.  If you are a cyclist, then statistically speaking, the Ford F-150 or Chevy Silverado in your neighbor’s driveway is a greater threat to your safety than the giant semi-trailer truck hauling dairy or lumber through your city.

Salt Lake City Wrongful Death Lawyer Handling Fatal Bicycle Accident Claims

Regardless of whether a bicycle accident is caused by a car, a commercial truck, a passenger truck, or any other vehicle, the driver who caused the accident may be liable for the bicyclist’s injuries, including medical bills and income losses.  If the cyclist is killed in the crash, his or her surviving spouse or family members may have a cause of action for a wrongful death lawsuit.

If you lost a loved one to a fatal bicycle crash in Utah, Salt Lake City wrongful death attorney Darwin Overson can guide you through the legal process with compassion and sensitivity.  With over 33 years of experience handling fatal and non-fatal bicycle accident claims, Darwin Overson has in-depth knowledge of these complex cases and the strategies that can be applied to maximize the value of a claim.  Most importantly, Darwin can work to hold the at-fault driver accountable for their actions.

You and your family deserve justice.  To talk about your claim in a free, completely confidential legal consultation, call the law offices of Overson Law at (801) 895-3143.  We handle personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits across Utah.


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