Share the Road


I saw the license plate above on a car in our neighborhood during a morning walk, and it led me on a couple different exercises. First, how many states have Share the Road license plates? Second–a bigger topic requiring a lot more thought, time, planning, reporting, and analysis: What’s the correlation, if any, between Share the Road efforts like license plates and actual results on the road–as reflected, perhaps, in highway fatality statistics? Like I said, I think that second question is a major research topic, requiring you to consider state demographics, cycling participation, non-fatal accidents, overall traffic accident patterns, and do that all over time (for instance, compare statistics from periods before Share the Road plates were adopted and afterward). It would also be interesting to look at the impact of other Share the Road measures, such as sign-posting and driver-cyclist education. Anyone up for a project?

This is an odd collection of plates–some are widely available in states, some are very limited in issuance, some are being planned. You’ll notice West Virginia; they’ve had an apparently unsuccessful Share the Road plate effort; in the meantime, they have a plate that promotes what I suppose you could call “lane sharing.” The fatality statistics (the rate is number of cyclist deaths per million residents) are from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration’s “Traffic Safety Facts: Bicyclists and Other Cyclists” report for 2008 (the latest available). The numbers don’t mean much in and of themselves–see the research project proposed above–though one notes that Florida, a Share the Road plate state, has had a very high rate of cyclist deaths on the roads the last two years and that Vermont and the Dakotas, none of which have the special plates, have a consistent pattern of very low fatality numbers.

State Fatality rate U.S. rank License plate
Colorado 2.43 16
Florida 6.82 2
Georgia 2.06 21
Illinois 2.09 21
Indiana 2.82 10
Iowa 1.67 26
Kentucky 1.41 37
Maryland 1.07 44
Missouri 0.51 48
North Carolina 3.47 4
Ohio 1.57 29
Oklahoma 1.1 42
Oregon 2.64 12
South Carolina 3.13 5
Tennessee 1.13 41
Texas 2.18 18
Utah 1.46 35
Washington 1.37 38
West Virginia 1.1 43