Coroner Releases Report on Ontario Bicycle Accident Deaths

The Coroner released a report on Ontario bicycle accident deaths from 2006 to 2010.    In particular, the report reviews 129 bicycle deaths during this time period.

In addition,   the report notes that “in 2009, over 26,000 people in Ontario visited an Emergency Department for treatment of an injury sustained while cycling. Undoubtedly, countless more were injured but did not require medical treatment. Each of these injuries represents a potential fatality – an incident where, had the situation unfolded slightly differently, a death might have occurred.”

These numbers are staggering,  but not surprising given what we see in our practice.  Here are some of the fascinating conclusions the Coroner’s office drew from rthe eview, along with our comments:

  • 86% (111 of 129) of those killed while cycling were male.  This was surprising only because in our practice the number of female cyclists injured is approximately equal to the number of male cyclists.
  • Approximately two-thirds (84 of 129; 65%), of fatal cycling collisions took place in an urban environment, with the other one-third (45 of 129; 35%) occurring in a rural setting.  I suspect this is because serious accidents are more likely at a traffic intersection.
  • The peak age for cycling deaths was 45-54 years; over half of cycling fatalities (66 of 129; 51%) occurred in persons aged 45 and older.  This is different than what we see.  Most of our cycling clients are in their 30’s.
  • Children represented a smaller, but significant, portion of cycling deaths. A total of 19 deaths (15%) occurred in those aged 19 and under; 8 of those (6%) were in children aged 14 or under.  When we have had children injured in a bike accident, their lack of understanding of traffic and traffic signs has often been a factor.
  • Numbers of cycling fatalities in Ontario declined each year from 2006 (41) to 2009 (14), but rose again (to 25) in 2010. We found 2010 to be a high cycling accident year as well.
  • The peak months for cycling fatalities were July, August and September (46%).  When we look at all of the motor vehicle accidents in our practice, not just bicycle accidents, we find that August is the month when the most accidents took place.
  • A total of 96 of the 129 deaths (74%) occurred in the Spring and Summer months.
  • The vast majority of cycling deaths occurred during clear weather, on dry roads, with good visibility.
  • More than half (69 of 129; 53%), of the fatal cycling collisions occurred in daylight conditions.  Given that people are less likely to cycle at night, we think it is pretty scary that almost half of the collisions happened at night.
  • The peak time for fatal collisions (25 of 129; 19%) occurred between 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm.
  • Only 27% (35 of 129) of those who died as the result of a cycling collision were wearing a helmet. Despite mandatory legislation, only 44% (7 of 16) of cyclists under the age of 18 who died were wearing a helmet. Those cyclists whose cause of death included a head injury were three times less likely to be wearing a helmet than those who died of other types of injuries.  We know it is controversial but we support mandatory helmet laws.  We still think you should be compensated for someone else’s negligence if you are not wearing one…
  • In cases where the type of cycling activity was known, 63% of fatal collisions occurred during recreational activities, and 31% during commuting. The balance represented sport cycling activities, either solo or in a group setting.
  • In 44 cases, contributing factors on the part of the cyclist alone were identified. In 33 cases, contributing factors on the part of the driver of a vehicle alone were identified. In 48 cases, contributing factors were identified on the part of both the cyclist and the driver. In three cases, the circumstances of the collision were unclear.  Remember that even in cases where the cyclist was partially at fault, an injured cyclist or the family of a cyclist who has died could make a claim for compensation.

To read more about the report, check it out here.

If you are looking for information after a serious cycling accident, contact the Ottawa personal injury lawyers at 613 233-4529.  We will give you free, no obligation information to help you understand your rights after a bicycle accident in Ontario.

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