Each year in this country, there are roughly 19,000 cyclists who are killed or injured as a result of road traffic accidents. As there are a large number of accidents which go unreported, it is estimated that there could be up to 3 times as many more than this. To avoid becoming part of these statistics, it is important to know what the most common causes of these accidents are.

Where are accidents likely to take place?

Most cycling accidents take place at road junctions. According to data collected by the Department for Transport almost two thirds of accidents involving a cyclist occurred at or near a junction, most commonly T-junctions. Roundabouts are also a likely location for an accident to take place.

Almost half of cyclist deaths are recorded on rural roads. This is due to the rate of fatal accidents rising in tandem with the speed limit.

When are accidents likely to take place?

Accidents are much more likely to take place in the daylight, with daytime accidents accounting for approximately 80% of collisions. In terms of time, most accidents occur between 8:00am – 9:00am and 3:00pm – 6:00pm. This is due to the much higher volume of traffic on the roads at these times.

It should be noted that accidents that take place at night are more likely to be fatal than those that occur in the daylight. Likewise, accidents in the autumn and winter months are more likely to be fatal than those in spring and summer, despite there being less accidents overall.

How are accidents likely to take place?

The most likely cause of an accident is a collision with a motor vehicle. However, according to a report by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), 16% of fatal/serious cycling accidents don’t involve a collision: they are caused by the rider losing control of their bike.

Drivers can cause bike accidents in a number of ways. Examples of this are failing to see the cyclist, driving recklessly/too fast, overtaking too close to the cyclist and failing to correctly judge the speed/path of the cyclist.

In terms of contributory factors to a crash, the most common recorded by the police is that either the driver (57% in serious accidents) or cyclist (43% in serious accidents) had ‘failed to look properly’. This factor is especially prominent in collisions at a junction. For cyclists, the second most common contributory factor was ‘entering the road from the pavement’, which was recorded in around 20% of serious collisions.

Other common factors discovered in TRL’s report were ‘poor turn or manoeuvre’ (present in 17% of serious accidents) and ‘carelessness/recklessness’ (also 17%).

While the most common vehicle involved in bicycle collisions is a car, heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) are particularly dangerous to cyclists. This is especially true in London where about 20% of fatal cycling accidents involve a HGV. These accidents often occur when the HGV is turning left at a junction, as the driver can find it difficult to see any cyclists positioned to their left due to their large blind spots. Roughly 25% of accidents resulting in a serious injury to the rider involved a HGV, bus or coach ‘passing too close’ to the cyclist.

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