U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Skip to content
Facebook iconYouTube iconTwitter iconFlickr iconLinkedInInstagram

Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

This summary report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number: FHWA-RD-95-163
Date: 1995

Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash Types of the Early 1990's

Technical Summary


U.S. Department of Transportation

Federal Highway Administration

FHWA Contact:
Carol Tan, HSR-20
(703) 285-2121

Research and Development

Turner-Fairbank Highway
Research Center
6300 Georgetown Pike
McLean, VA 22101-2296

This technical summary announces the completion of a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) study that is fully documented in a separate report (FHWA-RD-95-163) of the same title.


Approximately 6,500 pedestrians and 900 bicyclists are killed each year as a result of collisions with motor vehicles.

As a group, pedestrians and bicyclists comprise more than 14 percent of all highway fatalities each year. Pedestrians account for as much as 40 to 50 percent of traffic fatalities in some large urban areas. The 1991 General Estimates System (GES) data indicate that 92,000 pedestrians and 67,000 bicyclists were injured in this type of crash.

Many more injuries are not reported to record-keeping authorities. A study by Stutts et al. (1990) showed that fewer than two-thirds of the bicycle-motor vehicle crashes that were serious enough to require emergency room treatment were reported on State motor vehicle crash files.

In the 1970's, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) developed a system of "typing" pedestrian and bicyclist crashes. Each identified crash type is defined by a specific sequence of events, and each has precipitating actions, predisposing factors, and characteristic populations and/or locations that can be targeted for intervention.

Examples of pedestrian-motor vehicle crash types include:

  • Pedestrian darts out into traffic in a midblock area.
  • Pedestrian struck from behind while walking or running along the road in the same direction as traffic.
  • Vehicle making a turn at an intersection strikes a pedestrian.
  • Pedestrian struck by a backing vehicle.

Picture of Pedestrian Crash Examples.

Examples of bicycle-motor vehicle crash types include:

  • Motorist left turn facing the bicyclist.
  • Bicyclist left turn in front of traffic.
  • Motorist drive-out from a driveway or alley.
  • Bicyclist ride-out from a stop sign or flashing red signal.

Because the frequencies and/or distributions of these types of crashes may have changed since the original typing schemes were developed, further refinement of the crash types may no be advisable. Also, there is a need to better describe these pedestrian and bicyclist accident types with respect to the roadway conditions and features where they occur.

With many newly appointed pedestrian-bicyclist coordinators in the states as a result of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), as well as the increased presence of these coordinators at the local level, it is also probably time to develop simpler crash-typing schemes for both pedestrian and bicyclist crashes.

A simplified typing scheme would easily allow coordinators and other evaluators to become more familiar with and and track such crashes over time.


The purpose of this research was to apply the basic NHTSA pedestrian and bicyclist typologies to a sample of recent crashes, and to refine and update the crash-type distributions, paying particular attention to roadway and locational factors.

The specific study aims were to:
1. Identify and code, according to NHTSA typologies, a recent sample of approximately 5,000 pedestrian-motor vehicle and 3,000 bicycle-motor vehicle crashes.
2. Determine the specific roadway, locational, and other factors associated with each crash type.
3. Identify situations where engineering and/or educational or regulatory countermeasures might be employed effectively to reduce the frequency of pedestrian or bicycle crashes.

Submit comments to the author(carol.tan.esse@fhwa.dot.gov) of this report.



Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000
Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center | 6300 Georgetown Pike | McLean, VA | 22101