Auto Accident Reports Highlight Importance of Safety Precautions

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released a pair of annual reports on road accidents. The first covers accidents involving cyclists, and the second covers accidents involving children. Both of these new reports cover data for 2011.

The first report says that in 2011, there were 677 cyclist fatalities and 48,000 injuries due to collisions with motor vehicles. Those numbers amount to 2 percent of total deaths and injuries in traffic crashes during the period. The number of fatalities was 9 percent higher than in 2010, during which 623 cyclists died in collisions.

The average age of cyclists killed in traffic accidents in 2011 was 43 years. This average age has been steadily increasing over the past ten years. In 2002, the average age was 36. The age group with the highest fatality rate was 45-54, and the highest injury rate belonged to the 16-20 age group. The share of fatalities and injuries belonging to children age 16 and younger decreased significantly between 2002 and 2011. This may be due to increased helmet usage.

Male cyclists were injured and killed at far higher rates than females. Males accounted for 85 percent of fatalities and 78 percent of injuries in 2011.

The second NHTSA report concerns children age 14 and under in motor vehicle accidents. These accidents were the leading cause of death for children age 4 and every age 11 through 14. However, the total number of deaths of children 14 and under decreased 46 percent from 2002 to 2011.

The report highlights the importance of using seat belts and child safety seats. According to the report, research has shown that when front seat occupants wear seat belts, their risk of death in an accident is reduced by 45 percent and their risk of moderate or critical injury is reduced by 50 percent. Child safety seats reduce the risk of death by 71 percent for infants under one year old and by 54 percent for toddlers 1 to 4 years old.

Children 14 and under accounted for five percent of pedestrian fatalities in 2011. Between 2002 and 2011, the number of pedestrian fatalities decreased by 41 percent. Children accounted for nine percent of cyclist fatalities, and the number of cyclist fatalities decreased 58 percent over the past decade.

As a cyclist or pedestrian, obey traffic signals and practice greater awareness of the traffic around you. Wear a helmet when cycling and make sure your children do as well. And of course, always wear a seat belt and teach your children the importance of doing so. As auto accident attorneys, we know that most accidents, injuries, and deaths on the road are preventable. If you are injured in an auto accident and believe another may be to blame, speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.