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Mobility & Transport - Road Safety


Crash avoidance

Cycles are typically viewed as consumer products rather than road vehicles with much less attention to design and maintenance issues than received by other road vehicles. As yet, there is no EU-wide whole vehicle type approval system for vehicle design which is covered largely by national regulation.

The role of reflectors and better lighting?

In many countries it is mandatory for the cycle to be fitted with a rear reflector, and reflectors on the wheels. A Dutch study estimated that more than 30% of bicycle crashes in the Netherlands occurring at night or in twilight could have been avoided if bicycle lighting had been used. In Denmark, requires the fitment of lamps and requires their visibility at a distance of 200m. The quality and use of lights can be improved by enabling the storage of separate light systems or by designing the lighting into the cycle frame.

The role of better braking?

Studies of bicycle impacts indicate that there are large differences in component strength and the reliability of bicycle brakes and lighting. In the Netherlands, for example, the failure of components such a sudden crash or brake failure causes 10% of all cycle collisions.

Crash protection

Can bicycle helmets save lives?

Bicycle helmets can reduce the risk of head and brain injuries by between 63%and 88%. A meta-analysis of studies on the benefits of bicycle helmets indicated that wearing a helmet had an odds-ratio efficacy of 0.40, 0.42, 0.53 and 0.27 for head, brain, facial and fatal injuries, respectively.

Legislation requiring the use of bicycle helmets has been introduced in several countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States. In countries which do not require the use of helmets by law, the wearing rate is normally less than 10%. Monitoring shows that rates of helmet use tend to be higher among younger children, as opposed to teenagers and adults.

Can cars be made more forgiving?

Research and development to date in Europe has been aimed primarily at improving vehicle design to protect pedestrians in the event of a crash. There is an urgent need for research into how cars can be made more forgiving for cyclists.

Can side guards on trucks help?

When trucks and cyclists are side by side and the truck turns into the direction of the cyclists, the cyclist is at risk of being run over by the motor vehicle. Side guards close off the open space between the wheels of the truck. While fitment is common in several European countries and there is national regulation, no EU-wide requirement yet exists.