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The development of effective countermeasures to help prevent bicycling crashes is hindered by insufficient detail on computerized state crash files. Analysis of these data can provide information on where bicycling crashes occur (city, street, intersection, two-lane road, etc.), when they occur (time of day, day of week, etc.), and characteristics of the victims involved (age, gender, injury severity, etc.). These data cannot provide a sufficient level of detail regarding the sequence of events leading to the crash.

In the 1970's, a methodology for typing bicycle crashes was developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to better define the sequence of events and precipitating actions leading to pedestrian-motor vehicle crashes. (1) In the early 1990's, this method was refined and used to determine the crash types for more than 3,000 pedestrian crashes in the States of California, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Utah. (2)

A brief summary of the results showed the following:

• When the motorist and bicyclist were on initial parallel paths, either in the same direction or opposing directions, the three most frequent categories of crashes were:

Motorist turning or merging into the path of a bicyclist (12.1 percent of all crashes). Almost half (48.8 percent) of these crashes involved a motorist making a left turn in front of a bicyclist approaching from the opposite direction.

 

Motorist overtaking a bicyclist (8.6 percent of all crashes). Of these crashes, 23 percent appeared to involve a motorist who misjudged the space required to safely pass the bicyclist.
Bicyclist turning or merging into the path of a motorist (7.3 percent of all crashes). Within this category, 60 percent involved a bicyclist making a left turn in front of a motorist traveling in the same direction.

  

      
• When the motorist and bicyclist were on initial crossing paths, the three most frequent categories of crashes were:


Motorist failed to yield right-of-way at a junction (21.7 percent of all crashes). Of these crashes, more than a third (37.3 percent) involved a motorist violating the sign or signal and drove into the crosswalk or intersection and struck the bicyclist.

Bicyclist failed to yield right-of-way at an intersection (16.8 percent of all crashes). Within this category, 38 percent involved a bicyclist who had stopped for a sign or flashing signal and then drove into the intersection and was struck by the motor vehicle.

Bicyclist failed to yield right-of-way at a midblock location (11.7 percent of all crashes). Almost half of these crashes (43.4 percent) involved a bicyclist riding out into the roadway from a residential driveway.

In 1999, the crash typing methodology was incorporated into a software product known as the Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash Analysis Tool (PBCAT) and is intended to assist state and local bicycle coordinators, planners, and engineers with enhancing bicycle safety. PBCAT accomplishes this goal through the development and analysis of a data base containing details associated with crashes between motor vehicles and pedestrians or bicyclists, including the crash type that describes the pre-crash actions of the parties involved. With the data base developed, the software can then be used to produce reports and select countermeasures to address the problems identified.

References

1. A Study of Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Accidents: Identification of Problem Types and Countermeasure Approaches, Volume I (Publication No. DOT HS-803 315), K.D. Cross and G Fisher, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Washington, DC, 1977.

2. Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash Types of the Early 1990's, Publication No. FHWA-RD-95-163, W.H. Hunter, J.C. Stutts, W.E. Pein, and C.L. Cox, Federal Highway Administration, Washington, DC, June, 1996.





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