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Germany: accidents on German roads in 2017

Number of cyclists killed drops by 2.8 percent

© Alexander Hunger

In 2017, an average of almost 9 people died every day in road traffic - one in eight people killed on the roads was a cyclist.

In 2017, a total of 3,180 people were killed in traffic accidents in Germany. This was 26 traffic accident fatalities or 0.8 percent less than in the previous year and the lowest level in over 60 years. The number of persons injured declined to 390,312, that is, by 1.6% on a year earlier. "However, an all-clear cannot be given - considering that roughly 7,200 traffic accidents are recorded by the police every day, with just under 1,100 persons injured and almost 9 fatalities in road traffic", said Dr. Georg Thiel, President of the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) at a press conference held in Berlin today on accidents on German roads in 2017., at the press conference held in Berlin on 12 July 2018 on "Accidents on German roads in 2017".

In 2017, a total of 382 (2016 = 393) cyclists died on Germany's roads and more than 79,000 were injured. So every eighth person killed resp. every fifths person injured in traffic accidents was a cyclist. Between 2010 and 2017 the amount of people killed in traffic accidents declined by 13 percent. The amount of cyclists killed in traffic accidents was almost constant compared to 2010.

Particularly risks for cycling senior citizens

75+ generation cyclists are particularly at risk in road traffic. In 2017, 155 people in this age group died in a bicycle accident. Their share of all cyclists killed in road traffic was thus over 40 percent. Cars are by far the most frequent other party of accidents among cyclists. In 2017, the police recorded 46,200 accidents involving personal injury between a bicycle and a car. 137 cyclists lost their lives in these accidents. By comparison, accidents involving bicycles and goods road transport vehicles are not particularly frequent, but often have serious consequences. Around 3,100 of these accidents occurred in 2017. 76 cyclists were killed in these accidents. About every third traffic accident involving personal injury involving a bicycle and a goods road transport vehicle was a turning-off accident. 37 cyclists were killed in these accidents.

More e-bikes induce more e-bike accident

Since 2014 the amount of accidents with e-bikes has been doubled. In 2014 occurred 2,245 e-bike accidents with persons injured. 39 persons had been killed by cycling an e-bike. In 2017 5,206 accidents occurred with 68 people lost their lives.

The road traffic accident situation over the past ten years is shown at the traffic accident calendar (in German) by the Federal Statistical Office. The calendar also display accidents with cyclists and gives an overview on which days most of the accidents happened.
No decrease in the number of cyclists killed in road traffic compared to 2010.
(Parts of the Statement von Mirjam Bick (in German); Bereich "Verkehrszweigübergreifende Aufgaben, Personenverkehr, Verkehrsunfälle"):

382 cyclists died on Germany's roads in 2017 and more than 79,000 were injured. This means that every eighth person killed on the roads and every fifth injured in road traffic was a cyclist.

Between 2010 and 2017, the number of road deaths in Germany fell by a total of 13 percent. In contrast, the number of people killed while cycling remained almost constant compared to 2010.

There were clear differences between the individual age groups. For children and young adults or for 65- to 74-year-olds, for example, the number of cyclists killed has fallen since 2010. The number of young people at least remained constant. By contrast, significantly more people of the 75+ generation died  in an accident with a bicycle: 92 people aged 75 and over had died in 2010. They accounted for 24 percent of all cyclists killed in road traffic accidents. By 2017, 155 people in this age group had died in a bicycle accident. Their share of all cyclists killed in road traffic was thus around 40 per cent.

The fact that older cyclists are particularly at risk is also shown by the fact that between 2010 and 2017 the number of injured cyclists aged 75 and over rose by 81 percent (from 3,659 to 6,611 persons).

Passenger cars were involved in 46,200 bicycle accidents with personal injury and goods road transport vehicles were involved in 3,100 bicycle accidents with personal injury.

Cars are by far the most frequent opponents of accidents among cyclists. In 2017, there were 46,200 accidents between a bicycle and a car in which people were injured. 137 cyclists died and around 46,000 were injured.

Accidents involving goods road transport vehicles (such as trucks or semitrailer tractors) and cyclists are not particularly frequent, but often have serious consequences. In 2017, the police recorded around 3,100 of these accidents involving personal injury. In these accidents, 76 cyclists lost their lives and 2,981 were injured. The focus of public debate is the introduction of turn assistants for heavy trucks to prevent accidents between goods vehicles and bicycles. About every third traffic accident involving personal injury involving a bicycle and a goods road transport vehicle was a turning-off accident. In this type of accident, 37 cyclists died and 961 were injured.

99 cyclists died in 2017 in single accidents. This means that no opponent was involved.

The consequences of accidents on country roads are particularly serious for cyclists

91 percent of all bicycle accidents involving personal injury occurred in urban areas. This was also reflected in the number of injured people. 91 percent of all cyclists injured in road traffic were injured in built-up areas. For cyclists in particular, however, the consequences of accidents on country roads are often particularly serious. Only 9 percent of all bicycle accidents occurred on country roads. But 17 percent of the seriously injured and 34 percent of the killed cyclists had accidents on country roads.

Around two thirds of all cyclists who were injured suffered injuries in the summer half-year.

In 2017, 65 percent of all bicycle accidents in which a person was injured or killed occurred in the summer half of the year. The proportion in the winter half-year was only 35 percent of all bicycle accidents. Around 65 percent of injured and killed cyclists were also involved in accidents between April and September. By way of comparison, 53 percent of car drivers were involved in accidents and 50 percent were injured.

June was the month in which most bicycle accidents involving personal injury were registered. The fewest bicycle accidents occurred in January. This is also reflected in the number of fatalities: in June 2017, 50 people died when travelling by bicycle. That was just under one in eight of all cyclists killed in 2017. For comparison: in December 2017 there were 14 killed on the bicycle, in January 15 killed.

Most accidents in 2017 occurred during the day (82.2 per cent), only 4.7 per cent at dusk and 13.1 per cent at night.

Cyclists who were involved in an accident involving personal injury were to blame for less than half of the accidents.

Not even half of all cyclists (43 percent) who were involved in an accident involving personal injury in 2017 were to blame for it. However, there were clear differences depending on the other party involved: if a truck was involved, the person on the bicycle was to blame for about 20 percent of the accident. If a car was involved, the proportion was 25 percent. In accidents involving pedestrians, on the other hand, around 60 percent of cyclists were primarily responsible.

Pedelecs are becoming increasingly popular. At the beginning of 2017 there were already around 3.1 million electric bicycles in private households. By 2014 there had only been 1.6 million.

The number of pedelec accidents with personal injury more than doubled between 2014 and 2017.

The number of pedelec accidents increased with the number of pedelecs on the market. Accident data for pedelecs are available for the first time for 2014. This year there were 2,245 pedelec accidents with personal injury. 39 people were killed and 2,184 injured on this means of transport. In 2017, there were already 5,206 accidents with 68 fatalities and 5,047 injuries on pedelecs. This means that the number of accidents involving motorised bicycles has more than doubled since 2014.

Two thirds of all pedelec riders killed were 75 years of age or older.

The consequences of an accident on a pedelec are usually more severe than on a classic bicycle. In terms of 1,000 accidents involving personal injury, the risk of a fatal pedelec accident is more than three times higher than on a non-motorised bicycle.

This is due in particular to the fact that pedelecs are often driven by older people. An elderly person is more likely to be seriously or fatally injured in a fall.

Between 2014 and 2017, 205 people died riding a pedelec. 64 percent belonged to the 75+ generation. By comparison, the figure for non-motorized bicycles was 34 percent.

For pedelec riders, there are other risk-increasing factors: On the one hand, pedal support also encourages physically handicapped people to ride bicycles and enables longer cycle tours. On the other hand, according to the accident research of the insurers (UDV), some senior citizens seem to be overwhelmed with the higher speeds and the higher weight of pedelecs in some situations. This is why accidents involving pedelecs are relatively more likely to result in single accidents than accidents involving non-motorised bicycles: in 2017, almost 30 percent of all accidents involving personal injury involving pedelec drivers were single accidents. By comparison, the proportion of accidents involving non-motorised bicycles was around 19 percent.

The main cause of accidents with pedelecs and classic bicycles was incorrect use of the road.

The main cause of accidents involving personal injury caused by pedelec drivers was incorrect use of the road (100 per 1,000 people on average between 2014 and 2017). This includes, for example, driving in the wrong direction on a one-way street. Other main causes of accidents were the unadapted speed (69) and disregard for the right of way or priority of other road users (56).

Cyclists on classic bicycles who had caused an accident with personal injury were even more frequently accused of using the wrong lane (136 per 1,000 participants) than pedelec riders. This also applies to mistakes when turning, turning, reversing, driving in and out. People on pedelecs, on the other hand, were more likely to notice unadapted speed.