Risky road user behaviour is behaviour that adversely affects road safety, such as driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medicines, speeding, inappropriate speed, distracted or fatigued driving, red light negation, and failure to use or misuse means of protection (motorcycle or moped helmet, seatbelt). Younger road users more often display risky behaviour than older road users, and men more often than women.

A safe infrastructure is of vital importance to pedestrians and cyclists. In 2010-2019, 40% of the number of road deaths were pedestrians or cyclists. In 2018, they even made up 69% of the number of seriously injured road users. If pedestrians or cyclists are involved in crashes with motorised vehicles driving faster than 30km/h, they run a significant risk of severe or fatal injuries. The design of residential areas and homezones should therefore ensure that driving speed does not exceed 30km/h.

A pedestrian fall or collision is only a road crash (pedestrian crash) when a moving vehicle is involved. Between 2010 and 2019, an annual average of 59 pedestrians were killed in road crashes. Between 1999 and 2019, the number of pedestrian road deaths dropped by 62%. Crash risk for pedestrians equals that for cyclists, while for (light) moped riders crash risk is 3 to 4 times higher, and for occupants of cars/delivery vans 7 to 8 times lower.

From 2009 to 2018, an annual average of 80 road deaths were attributable to crashes with trucks and 67 road deaths to crashes with delivery vans. Casualty numbers are higher among crash opponents than among occupants of trucks or delivery vans. The fatality rate among crash opponents is higher when they crash into a truck or delivery van than when they crash into a car. The fatality rate among occupants of a truck or delivery van, however, is lower than among car occupants. Among the occupants of trucks or delivery vans, most fatalities occurred on provincial road and on national roads.

Driving under the influence of drugs or impairing medicines reduces fitness to drive[i] and increases crash risk. Drugs have a numbing, stimulating or mind-altering effect on the brain, or a combination of these effects, which impair traffic task performance. For drug use in traffic, we (unfortunately) have to rely on research dating back to 2011.

Children are a vulnerable group among road users. They are, after all, still building up skills which will eventually allow them to become safe and independent road users. The role of parents in teaching their children how to behave safely in traffic is very important.  In this fact sheet, children are taken to belong to the age category 0 to 14, unless specified otherwise.

A bicycle helmet is intended to protect cyclists against head and brain injuries when they are involved in crashes. The helmet does not prevent bicycle crashes (see the SWOV fact sheet Cyclists for general bicycle safety measures). International research shows that in case of a crash helmeted cyclists are 60% less likely to sustain serious head/brain injuries and 70% less likely to sustain fatal head/brain injuries than cyclists not wearing a helmet.

Visual information is of the utmost importance to road users. In darkness, both public lighting and vehicle lighting help road users take stock of the traffic situation and help them to be seen by others. Installing public lighting leads to a 50% reduction in the number of nighttime injury crashes. Disavantages of public lighting are, among other things, the risk of collisons with lamp posts, light pollution and the costs of material, maintenance and energy consumption. The road safety effects of a reduction in illuminance level on motorways vary according to the traffic situation.

In this factsheet wrong-way driving is defined as ‘a car driving in the wrong direction on a road with separated driving directions and consequently driving into oncoming traffic '. This relates mainly to motorways. Wrong-way driving crashes are rare. The outcome, however, is often severe. Most wrong-way driving crashes occur when a driver enters a motorway exit ramp or when a driver reverses direction on a motorway. Orientation problems (especially among the elderly) or recklessness (especially among young drivers) are the most common causes.

Moped and light-moped riders are at relatively high risk of being a crash casualty. Although there is a trend towards fewer deaths, in the Netherlands, the risk of being killed or seriously injured remains very large compared with other modes of transport. In the Netherlands, helmet use is mandatory for moped riders, but not for light-moped riders. In recent years we have seen a strong increase in the number of light mopeds (especially the scooter model is widely sold), whereas the number of mopeds has been decreasing slightly.