Alcohol May Be a Much Bigger Factor in Bicycle Accidents Than Believed

According to a new study, widespread underreporting of alcohol as a factor in fatal accidents mean that the actual number of fatal collisions that involve drunk driving, could be much greater than we currently believe.

That information came from researchers who analyzed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System. Information on drunk driving from the system was then compared with the information on death certificates.

The researchers found in the analysis that between 1999 and 2009, approximately 3% of all death certificates mentioned drunk driving as the contributing factor in the accident fatality. However, from highway data, the researchers found that 21% of people killed in the accident were legally intoxicated at the time of the accident.

According to the authors, the reason for this discrepancy in statistics is possibly because alcohol is very often not mentioned as the contributing factor in death certificates, because the blood-alcohol test results have not come in at the time of compiling with certificate. Typically, it can take between 3 to 5 days to file a death certificate after the death has occurred, but it can take much longer for blood-alcohol test results to come in.

That means that there are discrepancies in the accumulation of data involving drunk driving accidents, and this discrepancy is possibly hazardous because it fails to provide accurate numbers about alcohol-related accidents.

Bicyclists are some of the most vulnerable victims of drunk drivers. An intoxicated driver may not be in a position to look out for upcoming vehicles, let alone bicycles which have a much narrower frame and are easier to miss. Intoxicated drivers typically drive at excessive speeds or drive rashly, increasing the risk to bicyclists unlucky enough to be sharing the road with them.

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