Injury to Pedestrians and Bicylists: An Analysis based on Hospital Emergency Department Data

Federal Highway Administration

The purpose of the current study was to broaden understanding about the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists. Traditionally, the U.S. Department of Transportation has relied on State motor vehicle crash data, based on reports completed by police and other law enforcement officers, as their primary source of information on events causing injury to pedestrians and bicyclists. While these data provide considerable information to help guide safety program and countermeasure development, they have often been referred to as "the tip of the iceberg" because they are limited almost entirely to motor vehicle-related events that occur on public roadways. Specifically, they exclude: (1) many bicycle-motor vehicle and pedestrian-motor vehicle crashes that occur in non-roadway locations such as parking lots, driveways, and sidewalks, and (2) bicycle and pedestrian falls that do not involve a motor vehicle, regardless of whether they occur on a roadway or in a non-roadway location. There is also evidence that even many pedestrian- and bicycle-motor vehicle collisions occurring on public roadways are not reported in police crash files.

This report presents a descriptive analysis of data collected prospectively at eight hospital emergency departments over approximately a 1-year time period in three States: California, New York, and North Carolina. Information was gathered on 2,509 persons treated for injuries incurred while bicycling or walking. Results show that 70 percent of the reported bicycle injury events and 64 percent of the reported pedestrian injury events did not involve a motor vehicle. In addition, 31 percent of the bicyclists and 53 percent of the pedestrians were injured in non-roadway locations such as sidewalks, parking lots, or off-road trails. Alcohol was a factor in one-fourth of the pedestrian-motor vehicle injury events and 15 percent of the bicycle-motor vehicle injury events for those age 20 and older. The emergency department data were also examined in conjunction with statewide hospital discharge and motor vehicle crash data in an attempt to better define the overall scope and magnitude of the pedestrian and bicyclist injury problem.

Filed in: Community Problems and Solutions, Crashes and Safety

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