Influence of oncoming traffic on drivers’ overtaking of cyclists
Journal article, 2018

Active transportation - such as cycling - can provide health benefits to the population. However, cycling safety remains a major threat to favour the use of bicycles and, for this reason, more efforts are needed to reduce the number of crashes involving cyclists. One crash scenario which deserves special attention is driver’s overtaking of cyclists since it has an increased likelihood to lead to severe injuries. During the overtaking manoeuvre, the monitoring of subjective risk can influence the decision-making process and lead to different outcomes. In this context, the present driving simulator study aims to investigate how the time to collision between oncoming traffic and subject vehicle affected the overtaking strategy, and the minimum safety margins towards the overtaken cyclist. The results show that a decrease in time to collision against the oncoming vehicle significantly affects the drivers’ overtaking strategy (accelerative vs. flying), inducing more drivers to choose an accelerative overtaking manoeuvre. The decrease in time to collision also produces a decrease in minimum safety margins to the cyclists for drivers who opt for a flying overtaking strategy. Finally, the current research shows that the minimum lateral safety margins were smaller and the mean speed higher in flying manoeuvres compared to accelerative manoeuvres. Overall, the combination of lower safety margins and higher mean speeds in flying overtaking manoeuvres seems to pose a risk for cyclists’ safety. The findings of the study provide some implications for the design of automated driving.

Cycling safety Comfort zone boundary Driving simulator Overtaking strategy Safety margin Speed


Giulio Bianchi Piccinini

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences (M2), Vehicle Safety

Claudia Moretto

University of Bologna

Xuiping Zhou

University of Tsukuba

Makoto Itoh

University of Tsukuba

Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour

1369-8478 (ISSN)

Vol. 59 Part A 378-388

Areas of Advance


Subject Categories

Infrastructure Engineering

Applied Psychology

Vehicle Engineering



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