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Personal injury

What are the most common causes of cycling accidents?

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA), every year around 19,000 cyclists are injured in UK road traffic accidents.

23 June 2015

The realities of cycling accidents

The figures include the 3,000 cyclists who are killed or seriously injured each year, but only include the cycling accidents that are reported to the police.

According to the Department for Transport (DFT), 109 cyclists were fatally injured and more than 3,000 suffered serious injuries in 2013.

The majority of cyclist casualties are adults, with men far more likely to be involved in cycling accidents than females. Four out of five cyclist casualties are male and most cycling accidents occur in urban and built up areas.

Almost two thirds of cyclists who are killed or seriously injured are involved in collisions at, or near, road junctions. T-junctions and roundabouts are particularly dangerous for cyclists and unsurprisingly, vehicle speed plays a critical role in deciding the severity of a cyclist’s injuries. Put simply, cyclists are far more likely to suffer serious or fatal injuries on higher speed roads.

Around 80% of cycling accidents occur in daylight with the peak commuting hours, 8:00 to 9:00 am and 3.00 to 6.00 pm, the most dangerous. Cycling accidents that occur at night are more likely to be fatal.

Cycling accident statistics

  • 75% of fatal or serious cycling accidents occur in urban and built up areas
  • 50% of fatal cycling accidents occur on rural roads
  • 75% occur at, or near, a road junction
  • 80% of cycling accidents occur in daylight
  • 80% of cyclist casualties are male
  • 75% of fatal cycling accidents involve major head injuries.

Types of cycling accident

Adult cycling accidents are more likely to involve a collision with a vehicle, but around 16% of fatal or serious reported cycling accidents are caused by the rider losing control of their bicycle.

Cars and taxis were responsible for the majority of cycling accidents involving collisions with vehicles, and cyclists were predominantly struck from behind by the front of vehicles.

Accident contributory factors

Collisions between cyclists and vehicles are most commonly attributed by the police to a “failure to look properly” by either the driver or the rider, especially at junctions. “Failed to look properly” was attributed to the car driver in 57% of serious collisions and to the cyclist in 43% of serious collisions at junctions.

The second most common contributory factor attributed to cyclists was “cyclist entering the road from the pavement.” This accounted for 20% of serious collisions involving vehicles and included times when cyclists used pedestrian crossings to cross roads.

Other common contributory factors attributed to drivers following collisions with cyclists, included drivers executing “poor turn/manoeuvres,” drivers being impaired by alcohol, driving carelessly or “travelling too fast for the conditions,” failing to correctly judge a cyclist’s speed or path, and overtaking too close to cyclists.

Around 25% of serious cycling accidents involve a heavy goods vehicle (HGV), bus or coach “passing too close” to the cyclist. HGVs present a particularly dangerous threat to cyclists, especially in built up urban areas. Although HGVs make up only 5% of the UK’s road traffic, they are involved in 23% of all cyclist deaths, typically when an HGV is turning left at a junction.

Additional factors

Additional factors blamed for cycling accidents included defective and uneven road surfaces, loose debris, and potholes - which account for an estimated 10-15% of all cycling accidents.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers has helped hundreds of cyclists injured in cycling accidents through no fault of their own to get compensation and rehabilitation support. The type of cycling accident cases we typically handle involve:

  • Drivers pulling into or turning across the path of cyclists
  • Drivers colliding with the back of cyclists
  • Sudden lane changes with drivers failing to check their mirrors and blind spots
  • HGVs and large lorries turning left and failing to see cyclists waiting in their blind spots, particularly at traffic lights and junctions
  • Drivers failing to see or give way to cyclists at junctions and on roundabouts
  • Drivers or passengers opening vehicle doors into the path of oncoming cyclists

Contact us

Slater and Gordon Lawyers represent cyclists from across the UK including members of the Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC) – the UK’s National Cyclists’ Organisation. Our cycling accident experts have secured £44 million in compensation for CTC Members injured in cycling accidents since 2002, recovering over £2,900,000 in compensation for CTC members in 2013 alone.

For further assistance contact the road traffic defence team on 0330 041 5869

All information was correct at the time of publication.

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