Integration of needs of moped and motorcycle riders into safety measures

Review and statistical analysis in the framework of the European research project PROMISING, Workpackage 3


Noordzij (SWOV), P.C. ; Forke (IfZ), E. ; Brendicke (IfZ), R. ; Chinn (TRL), B.P.



The PROMISING project for DG VII of EU is aimed at the development and promotion of measures to improve the safety of vulnerable road users and inexperienced drivers and riders. This report is part of PROMISING and is concerned with riders of motorised two-wheelers. The report gives a review of statistical information on the use and safety, and of legislation, concerning mopeds and motorcycles for Western European countries. Also a review of the literature on safety problems and measures is given. The report concludes with a list of recommendations. The work for the report has been a cooperation between SWOV, IfZ, TRL, and INRETS. In Western Europe the absolute number of mopeds is 13-14 million. This number did not change much over the last ten years, but used to be higher before that. The absolute number of motorcycles in Western Europe is lower than the number of mopeds, at almost 10 million. This number is slowly, but constantly increasing. There is a clear regional pattern, there are many more mopeds/motorcycles in southern European countries in comparison with northern Europe. The number of vehicles per 1000 inhabitants is c.50 mopeds for southern countries and 30-40 motorcycles. For northern countries the rates are c.20 for mopeds and 10 for motorcycles. Because of the low minimum age for moped riding, many of the riders are young. Motorcycle riders used to be young as well, but there is a long term trend with fewer young riders and many more older drivers. Today about 75% of motorcyclists are older than 25 years. As a result of European regulations, the legislation concerning mopeds and motorcycles has become more uniform in recent years. But there are still many differences in detail. The number of motorcycle fatalities in Western European countries is more than 4000 per year. For moped fatalities the number is about 2500. Together they represent 10-15% of all traffic fatalities. These numbers are high in relation to the numbers of vehicles. Since there are more mopeds than motorcycles, the rate of fatalities per 105 vehicles is even worse for motorcycles. However, the use of motorcycles in terms of kilometrage is probably higher. In most European countries, the absolute number of moped fatalities under 25 years of age is about the same as for older riders. For both moped and motorcycle the rate of fatalities per 105 vehicles is much higher for young than for older riders. Nevertheless, there are more motorcycle fatalities over 25 years old than younger. This does not apply to southern European countries, where the numbers are about equal in both age groups. Ten to fifteen years ago, most countries used to have many more young rider fatalities, but the age distribution of the motorcycle rider population has changed to more older riders. For both moped and motorcycle more than two-thirds of the serious accidents are collisions with a car, many of these at intersections with the car driver coming from a side road or turning in front of the rider. Both mopeds and motorcycles have some special characteristics which directly or indirectly contribute to their relatively high number of accidents. The fact that they are single track vehicles means that the rider has difficulty controlling the vehicle, in particular when cornering or braking, and even more so in emergency situations. A small frontal area contributes to the problems of the perception of mopeds/motorcycles by other road users. Small numbers of mopeds/motorcycles on the road also contribute to this problem. The small size of a moped/motorcycle and their low weight in relation to their engine performance provide opportunities to their riders for behaviour which is different from car drivers. Age and experience are important for the safety of riding a moped or motorcycle. A statistical relationship may be found between moped/motorcycle characteristics and accident rate. But it is the rider motivation or riding style, rather than the vehicle characteristics which can explain this relation. The absence of a bodywork means that riders of a moped/motorcycle have little or no protection against collision impact. Until now, there has been little attention to the characteristics of both moped/motorcycle and collision object/vehicle in contributing to the injury consequences to the rider of a moped/motorcycle. Training and experience of riders are important to control the moped/ motorcycle in all kinds of situations; to cope with imperfect road surfaces and obstacles on the road; to recognise situations in which other road users may not react adequately to their presence; and to learn the consequences of behaviour which is different from that of car drivers, and how to cope with these consequences. This is all in addition to what all road users or car drivers have to learn about safe behaviour. In other words, learning to ride a motorcycle safely may take longer, and to a certain extent is different from learning to drive a car. Since mopeds have a lower speed, this is only partly true for learning to ride a moped. An effort could be made to obtain international agreement on the minimum content and form of basic training programs, based on the present knowledge on safety problems of riding a motorcycle/moped. Legislation concerning mopeds and motorcycles shows differences in minimum age and training/testing requirements for different categories of moped and motorcycle. Countries with a relatively low minimum age for riding a moped, or without compulsory training or licensing, should reconsider this. This is either with or without the option of a low speed moped with lower requirements. Countries should promote the availability and participation in voluntary training programs. Over the years the handling, braking, lighting etc. of mopeds/motorcycles has much improved. But there is continuous need for more development and research into improved control of brakes. Tampering with mopeds to make them go faster is known to be a problem in some countries. All countries are advised to provide information on this subject and to exchange the information on the effectiveness of anti-tampering measures. The present road network has primarily been designed for the use by cars. Road authorities have to become aware of the special needs of riders of mopeds/motorcycles in terms of the design and maintenance of the roads. Special requirements have to be developed based on these needs for road markings, road surface repairs, longitudinal grooves, drainage, timing of traffic lights (for longer braking distances on wet surface) etc. Speed reducing measures may pose special problems for mopeds/motorcycles and should be tested to prevent these. The same applies to the design and location of guard rails which may add to the injuries of riders of motorcycles/mopeds in the case of collision with them. Special traffic rules for motorcycles/mopeds to separate them from cars, or to give them privileges compared to car drivers, have been tried in several places in Europe. Countries are recommended to evaluate such rules where they already exist and to promote demonstration projects to gain more experience with them. The perception of mopeds/motorcycles is a special problem for other road users. This can only be partly solved by the use of daytime headlights by riders of mopeds/motorcycles. This measure is estimated to reduce (daytime) collisions with cars by 30-40%. Countries which do not have compulsory daytime use of headlights for motorcycles/ mopeds are advised to introduce this. Another part of the problem is that other road users are not prepared to search for mopeds/motorcycles and to take action to avoid a collision. All countries are suggested to promote campaigns to improve the behaviour of car drivers in relation to motorcycles/ mopeds and campaigns to improve the behaviour of riders to prevent collisions with cars. The lack of protection of riders of mopeds/motorcycles can only partly be compensated by wearing a helmet (which reduce the risk of a fatality by half) or other protective clothing. Some countries make exceptions to the compulsory helmet wearing by moped riders or have low wearing rates despite a compulsion and helmets are not always worn correctly. These countries are encouraged to reconsider the reasons for making these exceptions, resp. to enforce the compulsory wearing of helmets more strictly. Data collection and research are not safety measures in themselves, but serve to study the need for and the effects of such measures. In the case of mopeds and motorcycles there is a strong need for more reliable data and more and better research. All countries should provide the necessary statistical information on the safety and use of motorcycles/mopeds

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