Thursday, September 11, 2014

US Initiative Will Include Statistics for Freight Vehicles Involved in Cycle Accidents

Sweeping Approach to Reduce Both Bike and Pedestrian Fatalities and Injuries
Shipping News Feature

US – The issue of cyclists involved in accidents has been under the microscope in the UK of late and steps to decrease the number of injuries and fatalities involving HGVs have been well publicised. With police and local authority assistance, moves to educate both drivers and riders have been intensified and freight and construction traffic trucks adapted to lessen the risk to two wheelers, whilst cameras and the fitting of other safety equipment has become an industry on its own.

In the US, the situation bears some striking similarities but Transportation Secretary Foxx has approached the problem somewhat differently with a sweeping initiative intended to cut the number of incidents involving both cyclists and pedestrians in urban and rural environments. One thing however is for sure, the numbers of accidents involving cyclists is rising year on year and 69% of cycling fatalities (73% of pedestrian) occur in urban areas.

Secretary Foxx made the announcement at the Pro Walk, Pro Bike, Pro Place conference, the largest gathering of, transportation engineers, city planners and professional bicycle-pedestrian safety advocates and practitioners in the country and the 18 month campaign will commence with road safety assessments conducted by US Department of Transportation field offices in every state. The Department’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) will participate in assessments to gain understanding of non-motorised crashes involving truck and trains, it will be interesting to see how the statistics compare to UK results, particularly with regard to the number of commercial vehicles involved.

Injuries and fatalities of pedestrian and people bicycling have steadily increased since 2009, at a rate higher than motor vehicle fatalities. From 2011 to 2012, pedestrian deaths rose 6% and bicyclist fatalities went up almost 7%. Secretary Foxx commented:

“Safety is our highest priority and that commitment is the same regardless of which form of transportation people choose, including walking and biking. This initiative is aimed at reversing the recent rise in deaths and injuries among the growing number of Americans who bicycle or walk to work, to reach public transportation and to other important destinations.”

One interesting factor which arose during preliminary research has shown that lower income communities have disproportionately higher rates of pedestrian deaths, as well as less safe pedestrian infrastructure, despite higher reliance on non-motorised modes and public transportation. To read more about the new safety initiative click here.