The potential of vehicle and road infrastructure interventions in fatal bicyclist accidents on Swedish roads—What can in-depth studies tell us?
Journal article, 2019
Objective: The objective of this article is to describe the characteristics of fatal crashes with bicyclists on Swedish roads in rural and urban areas and to investigate the potential of bicycle helmets and different vehicle and road infrastructure interventions to prevent them. The study has a comprehensive approach to provide road authorities and vehicle manufacturers with recommendations for future priorities.
Methods: The Swedish Transport Administration’s (STA) in-depth database of fatal crashes was used for case-by-case analysis of fatal cycling accidents (2006–2016) on rural (n = 82) and urban (n = 102) roads. The database consists of information from the police, medical journals, autopsy reports, accident analyses performed by STA, and witness statements. The potential of helmet use and various vehicle and road infrastructure safety interventions was determined retrospectively for each case by analyzing the chain of events leading to the fatality. The potential of vehicle safety countermeasures was analyzed based on prognoses on their implementation rates in the Swedish vehicle fleet.
Results: The most common accident scenario on rural roads was that the bicyclist was struck while cycling along the side of the road. On urban roads, the majority of accidents occurred in intersections. Most accidents involved a passenger car, but heavy trucks were also common, especially in urban areas. Most accidents occurred in daylight conditions (73%). Almost half (46%) of nonhelmeted bicyclists would have survived with a helmet. It was assessed that nearly 60% of the fatal accidents could be addressed by advanced vehicle safety technologies, especially autonomous emergency braking with the ability to detect bicyclists. With regard to interventions in the road infrastructure, separated paths for bicyclists and bicycle crossings with speed calming measures were found to have the greatest safety potential. Results indicated that 91% of fatally injured bicyclists could potentially be saved with known techniques. However, it will take a long time for such technologies to be widespread.
Conclusions: The majority of fatally injured bicyclists studied could potentially be saved with known techniques. A speedy implementation of important vehicle safety systems is recommended. A fast introduction of effective interventions in the road infrastructure is also necessary, preferably with a plan for prioritization.
safety performance indicators