How similar are bicycle and motorcycle crashes involving motor vehicles?

Motorcycle versus cyclist crash

Source: YouTube

Narelle Haworth and Ashim Kumar Debnath at the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety-Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, Australia have examined the question, how similar are two-unit bicycle and motorcycle crashes? with the results being published in the Journal Accident Analysis and Prevention. However despite the Australian taxpayer funding the Queensland University of Technology and paying Professor Haworth’s salary we have to pay again to get access to the article so I only have the abstract here. If you have access to a University library you maybe able to get a copy of the paper via your library for research or teaching purposes.

The highlights from the paper (as suggested by the authors) are:

  1. Many characteristics are similar among two-unit bicycle and motorcycle crashes.
  2. Patterns of fault and factors affecting fault are mostly similar for these crashes.
  3. Some differences exist because of differences in usage patterns and travel speeds.
  4. Child bicyclists are more often regarded to be mostly at-fault.
  5. Rule violations by riders and drivers are more common in motorcycle crashes.

The abstract of the paper follows …

This paper explores the similarities and differences between bicycle and motorcycle crashes with other motor vehicles. If similar treatments can be effective for both bicycle and motorcycle crashes, then greater benefits in terms of crash costs saved may be possible for the same investment in treatments. To reduce the biases associated with under-reporting of these crashes to police, property damage and minor injury crashes were excluded. The most common crash type for both bicycles (31.1%) and motorcycles (24.5%) was intersection from adjacent approaches. Drivers of other vehicles were coded most at fault in the majority of two-unit bicycle (57.0%) and motorcycle crashes (62.7%). The crash types, patterns of fault and factors affecting fault were generally similar for bicycle and motorcycle crashes. This confirms the need to combat the factors contributing to failure of other drivers to yield right of way to two-wheelers, and suggest that some of these actions should prove beneficial to the safety of both motorized and non-motorized two-wheelers. In contrast, child bicyclists were more often at fault, particularly in crashes involving a vehicle leaving the driveway or footpath. The greater reporting of violations by riders and drivers in motorcycle crashes also deserves further investigation.

The full citation of the paper is:

Haworth, N. & Debnath, A. K. (2013). How similar are two-unit bicycle and motorcycle crashes? Accident Analysis & Prevention, 58, 15-25.

2 Responses to How similar are bicycle and motorcycle crashes involving motor vehicles?

  1. Ride2Wk 7 September 2013 at 10:32 AM #

    2 points about kids being hit “at fault”
    1/ Since when did have kids had fully developed brains that can recognise hazards as well as adults can? If drivers see kids about to cross a street then the drivers as the more educated (& more hazardous) “responsible adults” should automatically slow down and prepare to avoid a collision. Just because the car has right of way doesn’t condone taking it at the expense of kids being killed / injured. It’s that lack of consideration by drivers for kids that lead to parents wrapping their kids up in cotton wool and driving them to school which then makes traffic congestion far worse for all drivers. Of course kids are also unpredictable and sometimes suddenly change direction so drivers can’t always be held responsible for a resulting collision.
    2/ Some reports I’ve seen showed that kids were often hit by drivers turning in or out of side streets. In those situations under road rules 72 & 73, the bikes on the footpath (& pedestrians) often DO have the right of way and the drivers were at fault. Under the road rules definitions a kid or adult on a bike on the footpath is actually a “vehicle” on the “road” and has the same right of way over cars turning in or out of side streets.

    Too many people don’t realise the give way rules at intersections or mistakenly believe what they were taught as kids. “Stop, look 3 times & always give way to cars.” Prudent for safety but that’s not actually the road rules.

    (Note that by “footpath” I also mean shared paths and bike only paths. Also in many sensible states, cyclists of all ages are allowed to ride on footpaths unless signed not to.)

    • Andrew Priest 13 September 2013 at 7:44 PM #

      Thanks for your comments. I think you have pretty much hit the nail on the head here.

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