Investigating common patterns in New Zealand cycling fatalities
Following five cycling deaths during November 2010, the Chief Coroner announced a national Inquiry to identify any common trends or information that could prevent a reoccurrence of such tragedies. To help inform this Inquiry, a larger investigation into New Zealand cycling fatalities back to 2006 was undertaken, to try to identify any consistent patterns in crash occurrences that were significantly over-represented.
From crash records and media reports, more than 90 cycling fatalities were identified between January 2006 and June 2013. A review of the relevant reports identified common attributes. Potential initiatives that could have prevented each fatality were also considered.
Some notable trends were found. Older cyclists (>50 years) are very over-represented, despite their relatively low cycling involvement, and are also more likely to be at fault. The number of fatalities involving heavy vehicles and/or state highways was also higher than expected. Poor observation by drivers was a very common factor. The study also identified inconsistencies in crash information recorded, including recording of non-motor vehicle crashes and clothing/helmets worn.
The study has provided valuable information to inform both the Inquiry and transport safety agencies in general about what is needed to reduce the cycling road toll. It identifies additional trends that are not evident from just examining cycle injury crashes.