Healthy living

Lorries pose greatest danger to cyclists

cycling and health Injuries more severe, more likely to result in death

Lorries pose the greatest risk of death and serious injury to cyclists on roads, according to new research.

Around one in five cyclists with serious injuries attending a London trauma hospital were involved in collisions with HGVs, the study found.

Researchers at Queen Mary, University of London, said the study findings paint "a grisly picture" of the type of injury sustained by cyclists.

The study, published in the Emergency Medicine Journal, is the first of its kind to look at the type and severity of injuries caused by collisions with different road vehicles.

The research was carried out over six years and involved all 265 patients with serious cycling injuries who were brought to the Royal London Hospital by ambulance or helicopter.

Cyclists injured in accidents with cars were more common, but were more likely to suffer from head injuries, the study found.

But cyclists involved in accidents with HGVs had more severe injuries resulting in longer hospital stays. They were also more likely to die, 21 per cent compared with six per cent of those involved in car collisions.

HGVs were also more likely to cause severe injuries to the torso, pelvis and limbs.

Among cyclists who survived, those involved in collisions with an HGV typically needed to remain in hospital for 12 days, compared with one day for cars.

One in five of the HGV group needed to be transferred to another hospital suggesting the need for continuing care.

Dr Joannna Manson, a trauma research fellow at Queen Mary and surgery registrar at Barts and The London NHS Trust, said: "This research paints a grisly picture of the injuries sustained by cyclists who are unlucky enough to be involved in a collision. But it’s a first step in providing evidence about the devastating impact of those most serious cycling injuries.

"Patients are more likely to survive severe injury if they are treated in a major trauma centre, such as The Royal London Hospital, but the injuries caused by colliding with a car or an HGV can be very serious and some patients cannot be saved.

"Overall, increasing cycling in our cities is beneficial both to the individual and to the city but the risk of injury remains a major deterrent. Exactly how to improve the safety for people cycling in urban environments is unclear and we need more evidence to guide policy making in this area."

This article was published on Tue 6 March 2012

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