Posts Tagged ‘crash data’

2010 data shows major increases in fatalities

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Michigan’s Office of Highway Safety Planning issued a press release today regarding reported road crashes.

The news isn’t good, but especially for pedestrians and bicyclists.

For the first time in seven years, Michigan experienced an up tick in traffic deaths in 2010. During the same time the number of traffic crashes, serious injury crashes and alcohol-involved crashes all declined. While traffic deaths were up, the overall trend continues to be one of decline.

And while the detailed data hasn’t been released yet, they did provide these summaries:

  • Pedestrian involved fatalities increased 6 percent, up from 125 in 2009 to 133 in 2010.
  • Bicycle involved fatalities were up 55 percent, from 20 in 2009 to 31 in 2010.

What are “bicycle involved fatalities?” It means there was a reported crash that involved a bicyclists which resulted in a death. Since bicyclists typically don’t crash and kill other people (even pedestrians), these fatalities are most likely all bicyclists.

Michigan Bicycle-Vehicle Crashes: Helmet vs. no-helmet

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

We produced a report showing bicycle crashes from 2004 through 2009  in Michigan and the degree of injury for each cyclist. We ran the report for cyclists with and without helmets.

For the majority of crashes it is not known whether the cyclist was wearing a helmet. We dropped those numbers. And in some cases, the police report said the cyclist was wearing a safety belt. We ignored those as well.

Only 40% of the police crash reports properly reported whether the cyclist was wearing a helmet or not. That shouldn’t be acceptable. Do we need an improved police reporting form or more training? We’re not sure.

But among those crashes that were properly reported, about 17% said the bicyclist was wearing a helmet in the crash.

Michigan Bicycle Crashes, 2004 – 2009

Degree of injury Helmet No helmet
Killed 1.4% 1.5%
Incapacitating 13% 11%
Non-incapacitating 38% 37%
Possible 36% 37%
No injury 10% 13%
Unknown/error 0.8% 1.1%

Now, let’s look at just the adult cyclists 18 and older. Helmets were worn in about 23% of the crashes.

Michigan Bicycle Crashes, 2004 – 2009, Adults only

Degree of injury Helmet No helmet
Killed 1.5% 1.9%
Incapacitating 15% 12%
Non-incapacitating 37% 35%
Possible 36% 39%
No injury 10% 12%
Unknown/error 0.6% 0.7%

One conclusion to make is that there isn’t much difference in injury severity between those wearing a helmet and those that are not. There’s a slightly higher fatality rather for non-helment wearers but helmeted cyclists do suffer from higher injury rates.

However, there’s not enough information to say these differences are due to helmet use. ¬†Experience, risk taking, riding styles, rural vs. urban roads and more all play a role in the types of crashes that occur. A study would need to remove those factors to really determine the affect helmets have on injury severity.

Metro Region bike-vehicle crashes, 2005-2009

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

While doing some preliminary work with Google Fusion Tables, we created this very basic heat map showing the locations of bicycle-motor vehicle crashes throughout the Metro Detroit region (Oakland, Wayne, Macomb, and St. Clair counties.)

The map does not weight the crashes based on the severity of the injury. Green dots indicate one crash, while orange and red indicate multiple crashes in the same vicinity.

What’s interesting is the distribution. Detroit has noticeably fewer hot spots compared with the surrounding communities.

And some roads have enough crashes that they pop out on the map. That’s true of Gratiot through Macomb County, and to a lessor extent, Woodward through Oakland County.

Less safe roads for bikes and peds

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

SEMCOG issued a press release highlighting their analysis of the 2009 crash data. When it comes to their non-motorized crash analysis, we find it to be very superficial. This year is no different.

We did more year-to-year comparison and found some unreported and disturbing trends.

What SEMCOG says: “Bicycle crashes down – Traffic crashes … involving bicycles decreased just less than one percent in 2009 from 2008. There were … 967 crashes involving bikes in 2009.”

What the data shows: While there were fewer total bicycle crashes, that is primarily due to there being fewer minor crashes that left the bicyclist uninjured. Incapacitating injuries among cyclists increased significantly. The number of serious (fatal or incapacitating) bicycle crashes are up over 16 percent!

This is especially alarming given that statewide bicycling fatalities are down 24%. And, motorist fatalities within the SEMCOG region dropped by 5%.

In 2009, 47% percent of all Michigan bicycle fatalities were within the SEMCOG region as opposed to 36% in 2008.

The number of bicyclists involved in a crash increased slightly this year as well.

What SEMCOG says: “Pedestrian crashes down – Crashes in Southeast Michigan involving pedestrians totaled 1,180 in 2009; this represents a two percent decrease from 2008.”

What the data shows: While pedestrian crashes are down, pedestrian fatalities are up 4.5%. Statewide, pedestrian fatalities are up 6.1%.

In 2008, non-motorized fatalities made up 21% of all road fatalities within the SEMCOG region. In 2009, that percentage climbed to 23%.

Also in the press release, SEMCOG Executive Director Paul Tait says, “We are happy to report this continuing decline in traffic crashes in Southeast Michigan. A number of factors contribute to this downward trend, including the poor economy, higher gas prices, fewer vehicle miles traveled, and higher safety belt usage.”

If higher gas prices and fewer vehicle miles traveled meant safer roads in 2009, then why aren’t those goals within the Michigan’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan? It’s obvious that one of the most efficient ways of decreasing serious road injuries would be to reduce the vehicle miles traveled. It’s proven itself in 2009, yet it’s not part of the plan to improve road safety. Why not? Is the lack of political leadership trumping safety?

And, SEMCOG’s Camine Palombo commented on their analysis by concluding, “Finally – some news we can be proud of!”

We don’t agree.

Toyota fatalities? What about Metro Detroit bikes and peds?

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

What do the numbers 34, 39, and 339 represent?

Thirty-four is the number of fatalities being attributed to “sticky” Toyota gas pedals nationwide since 2000. It’s causes a media uproar, NTSA reviews, and public outcry over safety.

Thirty-nine is the number of cycling fatalities between 2000 and 2008 within Oakland, Wayne, Macomb, and St. Clair counties.

Three hundred, thirty-nine is the number of pedestrian fatalities during this time and within these same counties.

The difference with the local fatalities? There’s no uproar and very little media coverage. Agencies like the Road Commission for Oakland County continue to ignore best practices and AASHTO design guidelines for bicycle facilities.

Imagine if Toyota was caught ignoring best safety practices? This that would get some media coverage?

[This post was inspired by articles on Los Alamos Bikes and How We Drive.]