Urban Velo

Cyclist Fatalities Increase by More Than 6% in 2012

nhtsa graphThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released it’s annual crash stats report and the news is rather bleak. Following six consecutive years of decline in traffic fatalities that trend was broken in 2012, when the number of fatalities rose 3.3%, an increase of more than a thousand additional casualties from motor vehicle crashes, from 32,479 in 2011 to 33,561 in 2012. 

The bad news get worse, as the greatest increase in fatality rates is among pedestrians and cyclists, which increased by 6.4% and 6.5% respectively. Injury for cyclists involved in motor vehicle collisions likewise increased in 2012, by 2.1%. Alcohol-related fatalities rose by almost five percent and accounted for more than 30 percent of  all traffic fatalities in 2012.

nonoccupant chart

While the report shows that streets across the country are growing more dangerous despite heightened efforts to protect the most vulnerable road users, it reveals that traffic fatalities have dropped by 10,000 in over the past 10 years, and that even despite the increase in alcohol-related deaths, there has been a sharp decline in fatalities involving young drivers (aged 16-20) and alcohol, which decreased by 15 percent in 2012.

The full report on Motor Vehicle Crashes in 2012 is available here.








About Krista Carlson

A regular contributor to the print edition of Urban Velo, Krista Carlson is a cyclist obsessed with bike polo, baking, pickles, and all things bike-y. She is a native Angeleno and is madly in love with the city and everything that makes it the beautiful, crazy place that it is.

View all posts by Krista Carlson →


  1. SeaGNovember 18, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Note…One data point does NOT make a trend.

  2. JaimeRobertoNovember 18, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    To echo the previous commenter, trends rarely move down consistently. Often there are ups and downs along the way, like chart of a stock’s performance.

    Also, a more relevant measure would be the fatality rate per cyclist, trips or miles ridden. Based on my non-scientific, anecdotal evidence, the number of cyclists has increased by more than 6%, so it’s quite likely that the fatality rate has gone down.

  3. Ken NNovember 18, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    That about right with the increase of drivers doing everything but driving their vehicle (texting etc)

  4. CJNovember 19, 2013 at 5:48 am

    In Australia, cyclist deaths are already up by 42% this year, lots of hate on the road down here

  5. Krista CarlsonNovember 19, 2013 at 1:30 pmAuthor

    JaimeRoberto, you make a solid point. On the first page of the report I link to you can see a chart illustrating the number of fatalities against the rate rate per vehicle miles traveled (which likewise decreased for several years until 2012, in concert with the overall fatality rate).

  6. JaimeRobertoNovember 19, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    Krista, the problem with the chart in the report is that the denominator is vehicle miles. Presumably by vehicle they mean car, but even if bikes were included, I don’t think it would make much of a difference because miles ridden is probably a small fraction of miles driven. The more relevant denominator is cycling miles, which I couldn’t find in the report. It’s an interesting report, but there is not enough data to draw any conclusions about whether cycling has become more or less safe.

  7. Cycle fatalities up over 6% in 2012. | Gordon's sharesNovember 30, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    [...] Link. Suspect smartphone distraction, not least GPS. [...]

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