Bike vs. car fatalities rising among male cyclists

With a growing Northwest biking culture, particularly in the Seattle and Portland metro areas, a new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) study points to a troubling trend: Fatalities among male riders over age 20 have climbed 193% since 1975.

Conversely, males under age 20 have seen an 84% drop in fatalities during the same 37-year period (likely due to increased helmet use among children). Deaths among female riders of all ages remained relatively low with little change throughout the study.

So why the spike in fatalities among men? More riders plus more cars jockeying for commuting space is a likely culprit. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) compiled these statistics for 2012:


To help improve your odds as a bicyclist, NHTSA recommends:

  • Wear a helmet. (65% of riders killed in 2012 were helmetless.)
  • Ride in the same direction as traffic.
  • Obey traffic signs, signals, and lane markings.
  • Use hand signals when changing lanes and turning.
  • Wear bright colors and equip your bike with reflective materials and lights.
  • Avoid distracting electronics, and never ride under the influence.
    (28% of riders killed in 2012 were legally impaired.)

And when you're behind the wheel:

  • Stay out of designated bicycle lanes and, at intersections, green bike boxes (meaning no "free right turns" at red lights).
  • Allow at least three feet of clearance when passing bicyclists.
  • Look for cyclists before opening car doors or pulling out from a parking space.
  • Yield to cyclists when making turns.