Greater Risk for Motorcyclists in Intersections and on Small Roads

motorcyclist in traffic

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Deaths and severe injuries of motorcyclists occur more often in urban areas, in intersections and on smaller roads than is the case for car drivers. A VTI study reveals where and how severely motorcyclists are being injured.

Calculations for 2011 and 2012 show that, in the April–October period, motorcyclists run a roughly 19 times greater risk of being killed or severely injured in traffic than do car drivers. Motorcyclists are more likely to be injured than car drivers are in urban areas and on smaller roads.

More study needed

“The causes of accidents in urban areas merit greater study, for example, with respect to different types of intersections. The present study revealed that motorcyclists are injured somewhat more often in roundabouts than are car drivers”, says VTI researcher Åsa Forsman.

Killed or severely injured motorcyclists are consequently overrepresented compared with car drivers in accidents in intersections. The situation is reversed for those driving four-wheeled vehicles, i.e., they are overrepresented among those killed or severely injured on sections of road between intersections.

“It also appears that motorcyclists are at an increased risk of death or severe injury on roads with speed limits of 70 km/h as compared with roads with other posted speed limits”, says Forsman.

Lower risk of collision on divided roads

The study further indicates motorcyclists run a lower risk of being severely injured or killed on divided roads than on regular country roads if they are involved in a collision with another motor vehicle. However, in the case of single-vehicle accidents, there is no significant difference between divided roads and regular country roads.

“Given that motorcyclists are often injured on low-traffic road systems where more comprehensive traffic safety measures pertaining to the road itself are not to be expected, it is important to take other steps, such as those having to do with vehicle safety and driver behaviour”, concludes Forsman.

Statistics from spring to early autumn

The study is based on accidents reported to the police between 2003 and 2012 in Strada, and on road system data from the Swedish National Road Database (NVDB). The data are limited to the April–October period, when roughly 95% of the motorcyclist injuries occurred. Four-wheeled vehicles were studied to a lesser extent.

The study sought to map the types of roads on which motorcyclists are being injured, to make comparisons with where car drivers are being injured, and to calculate the injury density (i.e., number of injured individuals per length of road) for different parts of the road system. The study also investigated correlations between where the motorcyclists were injured and background factors such as driver age, time of day and type of motorcycle, as well as correlations between injury severity and various background factors.

The project was financed with a grant from the Länsförsäkringsbolagen research fund.

Text: Eva Åström

Image of Åsa ForsmanContact:
Åsa Forsman
VTI, Sweden
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