Analysis of bicycle crashes in Sweden involving injuries with high risk of health loss

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Maria Ohlin
Beatrix Alguren
Anders Lie

Objective: The objectives of the present article were to (a) describe the main characteristics of bicycle crashes with regard to the road environment, crash opponent, cyclist, and crash dynamics; (b) compare individuals who describe their health after the crash as declined with those who describe their health as not affected; and (c) compare the number of injured cyclists who describe their health as declined after the crash with the predicted number of permanent medical impairments within the same population.

Methods: A sample of individuals with specific injury diagnoses was drawn from the Swedish Traffic Accident Data Acquisition (STRADA) database (n = 2,678). A survey form was used to collect additional information about the crash and the health-related outcomes. The predicted number of impaired individuals was calculated by accumulating the risk for all individuals to sustain at least a 1% permanent medical impairment, based on the injured body region and injury severity.

Results: Nine hundred forty-seven individuals (36%) responded, of whom 44% reported declined health after the crash. The majority (68%) were injured in single bicycle crashes, 17% in collisions with motor vehicles, and 11% in collisions with another cyclist or pedestrian. Most single bicycle crashes related to loss of control (46%), mainly due to skidding on winter surface conditions (14%), followed by loss of control during braking (6%). There was no significant difference in crash distribution comparing all crashes with crashes among people with declined health. The predicted number of impaired individuals (n = 427) corresponded well with the number of individuals self-reporting declined health (n = 421).

Conclusions: The types of crashes leading to health loss do not substantially differ from those that do not result in health loss. Two thirds of injuries leading to health loss occur in single bicycle crashes. In addition to separating cyclists from motorized traffic, other preventive strategies are needed.

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