Detecting Motorcyclists and Bicyclists at Intersections

Source: Public Roads Magazine

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of U.S. traffic fatalities in 2008 reached its lowest level since 1961. Despite an overall improvement in safety, however, motorcyclist deaths continued their 11-year increase, reaching 5,290 in 2008, accounting for 14 percent of all highway fatalities. Bicyclists, too, face disproportionate dangers on the Nation's roadways. Although bicycle trips accounted for less than 1 percent of all trips in 2008, bicycle riders represented 2 percent of all traffic fatalities.

Statistics for intersection crashes are similarly disproportionate. Based on 2008 data from NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System, 270 (or 3.5 percent) of the 7,772 intersection fatalities were bicyclists, while another 1,441 (or 18.5 percent) were motorcyclists. Another way of looking at motorcyclist and bicyclist fatalities at intersections is to compare the proportion that occurred at intersections with the proportion that occurred elsewhere. For example, in 2006, 2007, and 2008, a total of 4,283 motorcyclists were killed in intersections, representing 16.9 percent of all fatalities at intersections. Over the same period, of all motorcyclist fatalities on U.S. roads, a total of 28 percent occurred at intersections. Similarly, bicyclists accounted for 786 intersection fatalities during those 3 years, representing 3.1 percent of all intersection fatalities. Intersections, the data reveal, were the site of 36 percent of all bicyclist fatalities.

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