LANSING, Mich. - New state police data shows statewide traffic deaths are up in nearly all categories, with the highest increase in bicyclists' deaths in 2015 up 57 percent.
According to the data, 33 bicyclists were killed in 2015, compared to 21 people killed in 2014. Following this largest increase, the following areas also showed the the largest increases in deadly 2015 traffic crashes:
- Bicycle fatalities up 57% from 21 in 2014 to 33 in 2015
- Motorcycle fatalities up 29% from 107 in 2014 to 138 in 2015
- Alcohol involved fatalities up 28% from 236 in 2014 to 303 in 2015
- Teen driving fatalities up 23% from 80 in 2014 to 98 in 2015
- Drug involved fatalities up 19% from 150 in 2014 to 179 in 2015
- Pedestrian fatalities up 15% from 148 in 2014 to 170 in 2015
- All cell phone involved crashes up 13% from 666 in 2014 to 753 in 2015
- Deer involved crashes up 3% from 45,690 in 2014 to 47,001 in 2015
One of the only areas that showed a decrease in traffic fatalities during 2015 was:
- Commercial Motor Vehicle (Truck/Bus) fatalities decreased 19% from 105 in 2014 to 85 in 2015
Monday FOX 17 spoke with MSP F/Lt. Jim Flegel, who is analyzing these numbers and writing the report, who said it will be at least two weeks before the MSP may understand the trends and why this could be happening.
Read the MSP 2015 crash report here.
Read the MSP 2014 report here.
In Grand Rapids an ordinance requires drivers to give bicyclists at least five feet of space from the right side of their vehicle. Doug Stevenson, co-owner of Alfred E. Bike in Kalamazoo told FOX 17 there's a grass roots effort working to get the 'five-foot-rule' in the greater Kalamazoo area as well.
"It’s not going to safe a bike rider from a drunk driver or someone that’s texting while they’re driving and not paying attention, but it might make people more aware," said Stevenson. "It might put some teeth into a law if there’s a close call.”
For frequently asked driver and bicyclist safety questions, many are answered here at GRdrivingchange.org.
Stevenson said since the tragic deaths of five bicyclists earlier this month in Kalamazoo, and the injuries of others, he's heard mixed sentiments from local bicyclists on whether drivers are slowing down and giving room more often. He urges anyone behind the wheel to slow down, and respect the right to share the road.
“Car drivers, if you see a bike on the road, don’t get mad, that could be my daughter, that could be my wife, that could be my brother out there," he said. "Slow down, and give them a bunch of space. They have a right to be there.”
To bicyclists, he reminds them to wear bright colors, use lights when it's dark out, and bike defensively.
“We need to make it where it’s not lucky if you make it to your destination, but where it’s a reasonable safe way to get around town," said Stevenson.