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Alcohol-Related Bicycle and Pedestrian Accidents Remain High

There’s plenty of awareness about alcohol-impaired fatalities involving motorists, but not much is known about the fact that alcohol-impaired fatalities involving pedestrians and bicyclists have remained consistently high over the past few years. According to a new report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, it’s just as dangerous to walk or ride a bicycle under the influence of alcohol, and it’s high time that pedestrians and bicyclists were made aware of these risks.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety report, the proportion of intoxicated pedestrians and bicyclists killed in accidents has changed very little over the past 20 years. Back in 1992, the percentage of pedestrians above the age of 16, who died with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or above, was 39%. In 2011, that number had dropped by two percentage points to 37%.

Among bicyclists, the researchers found that the fatality percentage rate when alcohol was involved was approximately 26% in 1992, and had dropped to 25% in 2011. The statistics seem to indicate that there has been barely any difference in the number of alcohol-impaired pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities over the past 20 years. During the same period of time, there have been substantial declines in the number of motorists killed in alcohol-related car accidents.

Pedestrians and bicyclists, who are under the influence of alcohol, tend to behave in ways that increase their risk of being involved in a serious or fatal accident. For instance, earlier research found pedestrians who were injured in accidents while impaired were much more likely to have crossed against a light, or crossed in the middle of a block, or engaged in other dangerous practices. Bicyclists involved in fatal accidents were also found to be less likely to be helmeted if they were under the influence of alcohol.In addition, an intoxicated bicyclist may find it much harder to judge gaps in traffic which reduces his chances of crossing a road safely.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in its most recent study focused on the specific characteristics of alcohol-impaired pedestrians and bicyclists. The researchers found that the highest percentage of pedestrians with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or above were male pedestrians. Alcohol-related pedestrian fatalities were also much more common among pedestrians between the age of 21 and 49. Pedestrians were much more likely to be killed at night while walking. Similar statistics were also seen in the case of bicyclist fatalities under the influence of alcohol.

The lesson from these studies is clear:Pedestrians and bicyclists must absolutely avoid walking and riding a bicycle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Such behavior is just as dangerous as driving a car while intoxicated, and probably even more so, because bicyclists and pedestrians have very little protection against serious or fatal injuries in an accident.They may also put others at serious risk by forcing drivers to take evasive action that may result in a wreck.