The effects of 'non-infrastructural' measures to improve the safety of vulnerable road users

A review of international findings, prepared for the OECD Scientific Expert Group 'Safety of vulnerable road users'
Hagenzieker, Drs. M.P.
A scientific expert group of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD is currently preparing a report on the safety of vulnerable road users, and focuses on pedestrians and pedal-cyclists. Thisreport reviews the evaluated effects of what can be called ‘non-infrastructural' measures to improve the safety of vulnerable road users. Ithas been written as a contribution to the chapter ‘evaluated safety measures' of the OECD report on the safety of vulnerable road users. Many types of ‘non-infrastructural' measures to increase the safety of vulnerable road users can be distinguished. Three selected areas are discussed: education and training, measures to enhance visibility and conspicuity, and protective devices for bicyclists (bicycle helmets). Other types of non-infrastructural measures (such as rules and regulations, enforcement, telematics, and improved car designs) are briefly mentioned. Education is often put forward as an effective preventive measure. However, evaluating precisely the effects of educational programmes is difficult, e.g. as to accident involvement. Examples are presented that illustrate the difficulties in evaluating educational programmes. It appears that the safety effects of Traffic Clubs for children are still inconclusive. Contrary to the many educational programmes available for (young) children, very few intervention programmes for elderly pedestrians and cyclists have actually been implemented (and evaluated). It appears those retro-reflective markings accentuating the form of the bicycle or a person (pedestrian), and stressing movements of these road users, are the most capable of having these road users recognized as such. The biggest problem is probably not the effectiveness of visibility aids but rather encouraging more widespread use of even the most basic aids in times of darkness. Only (a small) part of bicyclists use their lights, and conspicuity aids for pedestrians are used even less. The use of bicycle helmets can markedly reduce head injuries among bicyclists. However, in most countries only a small minority of children and adults wear helmets. Compulsory usage - in several states in Australia and the US - of the bicycle helmet leads to substantial increases in helmet use. However, in many countries it appears that such legislation is not feasible - both governments and cycling-organisations are not willing to make helmet use mandatory (e.g. Germany, the Netherlands) or await high usage levels before planning to start legislation (e.g. UK, Sweden). Therefore, bicycle helmet use must be promoted on a voluntary basis. This is not an easy task, because overall negative attitudes to the usage of helmets exist among (both adult and children) cyclists and among representatives of cycling and road safety organisations. It is stressed that these measures should not be taken instead of other measures such as infrastructural improvements; they should rather be seen as complement to other measures. Vulnerable road users can protect themselves, make themselves more visible and have (theoretical and practical) knowledge and skills acquired from education and training. However, they should not be solely responsible for their safety
Report number
SWOV, Leidschendam

SWOV publication

This is a publication by SWOV, or that SWOV has contributed to.