Heavy vehicles twice as deadly for cyclists and pedestrians

Heavy vehicles twice as deadly for cyclists and pedestrians
There are several factors that increase the risk of death as a result of an accident for vulnerable road users. Credit: Belga

The heavier the car, the greater the risk of death for vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians, a new study by the Vias traffic safety institute shows.

The risk of dying is 50% greater for vulnerable road users that are hit by a vehicle weighing 1800 kilograms rather than 1200 kilograms, while the risk of serious injury increases by 10% when the vulnerable road user is hit by a vehicle with 200 horsepower (HP) compared to a model with 120 HP.

The aim of the Vias study, which for the first time cross-referenced accident data with the database of registered vehicles, was to identify the vehicle characteristics that increase the impact of accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists.

Credit: TBT/ Vias

Meanwhile, the risk of being killed during a road accident is four times greater in a zone where the speed limit is 50 km/h compared to a zone where the speed limit is 30 km/h. The risk grows to 30 times higher in a zone with a speed limit of 90 km/h compared to a zone with a speed limit of 30 km/h.

Age of car, driver and victim

Aside from the weight and power of a vehicle, its age also has an impact on the severity of injuries to pedestrians and two-wheelers when they are hit, albeit slightly less.

"The older the vehicle, the higher the likelihood of more serious injuries. The risk of serious injury is 4% higher for a 10-year-old vehicle compared to a 5-year-old vehicle."

Finally, the age of the driver and the person hit by the car also plays a big role in the impact. The average age of a car driver involved in an accident is 45 years. The average age of a vulnerable road user is 37.

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In general, the older the driver, the lower the risk that the vulnerable road user is killed. "For example, the risk of death for a pedestrian or cyclist decreases by 12% when the driver is 30 years old, compared to a collision with a driver who is 20 years old," the Vias study read.

However, the opposite is true for the victim: the older the vulnerable road user, the greater the risk of death.

Vulnerable road users are also six times more likely to die in a vehicle collision at night in a place without public lighting, compared to a collision during the day. "This is probably because the driver only notices the vulnerable road user later in the dark and therefore has a collision at a higher speed than when it is light."

Vias said these results highlighted the need for increased protection for vulnerable road users.


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