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06/03/2012 // INFO Leave a comment

Trauma study lays bare the danger of lorries to cyclists

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Lorries as we know are the biggest dangers to cyclists in London with a disproportionate amount of recorded deaths in the capital due to collisions with lorries/HGVs compared to car collisions over recent years.

This is borne out by a recent academic study of serious cycling injuries brought into London’s Royal London Hospital by ambulance or helicopter. The study (published in the Emergency Medicine Journal) looked at injuries suffered by cyclists in crashes with different road vehicles over six years with the aim of collating data on the severity of injuries sustained by city cyclists when they are involved in collisions.

HGV collision more likely to result in death or serious injury

The study of 265 cyclist crashes found HGVs cause the greatest chance of death and serious injury with around in five crashes involving an HGV. 11 patients (21%) died after collision with an HGV compared with eight (6%) who were hit by a car.

Forty one (79%) of the patients that had been hit by a HGV survived with 33 patients (80%) discharged home. Eight (20%) required transfer to another medical facility for further medical care or rehabilitation.

Haemorrhagic shock, where the body loses a lot of blood, was a key feature of crashes involving HGVs with severe injuries to the torso, pelvis and limbs being common injuries when there was a collision with a HGV.

Car collisions

When a collision with a car was involved, cyclists were more likely to suffer head injuries but had a better chance of a non-fatality. Of those who collided with a car, 134 patients (94%) survived and 126 of those (94%) were sent home from hospital. The remaining eight survivors (6%) were transferred to another medical facility.

The results showed an increase in the number of seriously injured cyclists over time at the Royal London Hospital. Overall, cyclist casualties made up 4% of patients requiring the hospital’s full trauma team, 3% of London’s Air Ambulance deployments and 5% of deaths. Over the six year period, the number of cyclist casualties had risen from 24 casualties and no deaths in 2004, to 69 casualties and eight deaths in 2009.

Cycle trauma injuries

Dr Joanna Manson, the study’s author and trauma research fellow at Queen Mary, University of London, said the research painted a grisly picture of the injuries sustained by cyclists who are unlucky enough to be involved in a collision.

She said that getting patients to a major trauma centre rapidly where surgeons can control bleeding could prevent some deaths, but that measures to prevent collisions in the first place should be a key priority for policy makers.

“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.”


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