Moped riders - What are the causes of crashes involving (light-)mopeds?

Below, the most frequent crash factors are discussed, classified under behaviour, vehicle, road. These crash factors originate from a Dutch in-depth study of light-moped crashes [3] and a Danish analysis of police files [4] of light-moped crashes with 16 and 17 year-old riders.


In both the Dutch and Danish study behavioural factors were found to be the most common crash factors. In the Dutch study, from the perspective of the light-moped rider, the behaviour of another road user was the most common factor (69-72% of the studied crashes)[vi]. In most cases this involved failure to give priority to the light-moped rider. The behaviour of the light-moped rider also plays an important role in causing crashes. The top 5 of human factors is:

  • speed above the limit or too fast for the conditions (19-28%);
  • internal conditioning, such as narrow focus or "I have priority" (14-25%);
  • psychophysiological condition, such as hurry, tired, alcohol (11-17%);
  • unfamiliar/inexperienced with situation or vehicle (8-17%); and
  • position on the cycle path (8-14%).

The factors that most frequently played a role in the development of the studied crashes from the perspective of the other road user (the crash opponent) are the limited view on other traffic (30-37%), the layout of the intersection (26-37%), the position of his vehicle (30-33%) and the behaviour of the light-moped rider that forces him to act (22%).

The Danish analysis also mentioned attention (including distraction, 'failed to look' and 'narrow focus') as common behavioural factors [4].


Three vehicle factors play an important role in the safety of (light-)mopeds. First, (light-)mopeds as vehicle offer no protection in the event of a crash; that is why the (light-)moped rider as well as the cyclist and motorcyclist is a vulnerable road user. Second, (light-)mopeds are equilibrium vehicles, which makes the vehicle control more demanding; the better the vehicle control, the better the attention that is available to anticipate and ride safely [5]. Third, it is relatively easy to tune up (light-)mopeds. This is partly because many (light-)mopeds are constructed with a potentially high engine power after which a speed restriction is added for the sale to countries such as the Netherlands where a low speed limit applies [6]. The Dutch in-depth study of (light-)moped crashes also indicates that, in addition to a 'bad state of the tires or brakes of the (light-)moped' (8-14%), a 'tuned up vehicle' (6-17%) is also a common vehicle factor.


The most common infrastructure- or environment-related factors in the Dutch in-depth study were: 1) view on other traffic is limited by trees, parked cars or other objects (19-25%); 2) wet/damp road surface (14-19%); and 3) sub-optimal intersection layout, such as a non-conflict-free setting of the traffic lights or too small a positioning space before the bike path for vehicles turning off (14-17%) [3]. In the Danish analysis of police files similar-related crash factors were found; however, they played less often a role [4]. This may be due to the dependence of police data and the extent to which the police pay attention to the role of the infrastructure in the occurrence of crashes.

[vi] The first (and lowest) number in parentheses indicates in how many percent of the crashes the crash factor has (almost) certainly played a role. The second percentage also includes the crashes in which there was some doubt on the validity of that factor.


Fact sheets(s)