New Study Addresses Rising Costs of California Bicycle Accidents

chris-becker-781-copy-300x200Bicycle accidents in Carlsbad happen more often than they should, and according to a recent study at the UC San Francisco, the costs of bicycle collisions are on the rise. According to a fact sheet from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), trips on bicycles account for only about 1% of all trips that are taken in the country each day. Yet proportionally, bicyclists are at higher risk of suffering a serious or fatal injury in a car accident than are motor vehicle occupants.

As the study explains, the recent rise in bicycle crash costs coincides with an overall increase in cycling popularity. While we want to encourage bicycling in the San Diego area for both health and environmental reasons, it is important to weigh the risks and rewards. The study was published in the journal Injury Prevention.

Medical Costs of Bicycle Injuries Increase by Hundreds of Billions in Two Decades

How much do bicycle accident injuries end up costing every year? In terms of the physical, emotional, and psychological costs of a serious bicycle accident, it can be extremely difficult to quantify the losses. In terms of the economic costs of a bicycle collision, the recent study tells us that they are hundreds of millions per year, totaling hundreds of billions of dollars in the last 17 years.

Specifically, the researchers at UC San Francisco determined that medical costs from bicycle accidents have risen by about $789 million per year on average, resulting in a total of around $237 billion between 1997 and 2013. Those annual costs have risen dramatically in the past five years. For instance, in 2013, bicycle accident costs totaled more than $24.4 billion, which was “approximately double the medical and other various costs involved for all occupational illnesses over the same time period.”

More Emergency Department Visits with Older Male Riders Disproportionately Affected

Does the recent study help us to pinpoint some of the most salient risk factors for bicycle accidents and extensive economic costs? In short, males tend to be involved in more serious bicycle accidents than women, and older riders also appear to be disproportionately affected by bike accident rates. In addition, the study helps to illuminate some shifts in the types of bicycle crashes that are happening and requiring emergency medical treatment.

According to Thomas W. Gaither, one of the authors of the study and a UCSF medical student, “the costs of bicycle injuries have risen steadily since 1997, with a significant increase in emergency department visits and hospital admissions, especially with older men.” In addition, the researchers determined that most bicycle crashes used to happen in non-street accidents, meaning that cyclists might crash on a bicycle trail or might collide with a pedestrian. Now, however, more riders are getting hurt in collisions with motor vehicles, which “increase the velocity of the crash impact and, as a result, the severity of the injury.”

In sum, these are the factors that may play a key role in the rising financial costs of bicycle collisions in Carlsbad and throughout California:

  • More older people (males in particular) are riding bicycles; and
  • More collisions are happening with motor vehicles.

Seek Advice from a Carlsbad Bicycle Accident Attorney

Were you injured in a collision with a motor vehicle? An experienced bicycle accident attorney in Carlsbad can assist with your case. Contact the Walton Law Firm to learn more about how we can help.

See Related Blog Posts:

Anatomy of an Escondido Bicycle Injury Claim

City of San Diego Bicycle Accident Results in $4.8 Million Settlement

(image courtesy of Chris Becker)

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