Age is crucial factor in cycling accidents

By Richard Peace | Sunday, January 3, 2010 8.00am

A government-commissioned report from the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) has found that cyclists under 16 are more at risk of being killed or seriously injured on Britain's roads than any other age group.

The report analysed a number of different sources – including government surveys and police and hospital reports – and looked at the cycling accident characteristics of four main age groups: children (0-15 years), younger adults (16-29), adults (30-49) and over-50s.

Cyclists aged 16-29 followed the under-16s in the 'at risk' stakes, while older riders, particularly over-70s, also had higher than average chances of being involved in an accident.

The report also detailed where police had attributed the main 'contributory factor' in motorist/cyclist collisions (with age ranges categorised slightly differently here). In every age sector over 24 years old, driver behaviour was deemed the main contributory factor, and in age categories under 24, cyclist behaviour was considered largely to blame.

In the overwhelming majority of cases where cyclists' behaviour was the main contributory factor, 'failure to look properly' was the main fault contributing to the accident – in the case of the under 15 category, making up over half the recorded factors.

Other causes commonly cited by the police were 'cyclists entering the road from the pavement', cyclists being 'careless, reckless or in a hurry' and 'failure to judge the other person's path or speed'.

In cases where motorist behaviour was the main contributory factor, 'failure to look properly' was even more clearly cited as the most important aspect.

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It should also come as little suprise to urban cyclists that HGVs were picked out as being over-represented when it came to fatal cycling accidents.

Perhaps less expected was the conclusion that the risk of being killed is much higher on rural roads than on other types of highway.

The report's figures on killed and seriously injured cyclists (KSIs) where no other vehicle was involved may also surprise experienced riders; from 2005 to 2007 some 16 percent of all KSIs fell into this category.

The main reason cited in such cases was a rather vague 'loss of control' – as the report notes, this could be down to a number of other factors such as poor bike condition or lack of road maintenance.     

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