Scholarly article on topic 'The ITF/OECD Working Group on Powered Two-Wheelers Safety: Developing Guidelines for an Integrated Safety Strategy'

The ITF/OECD Working Group on Powered Two-Wheelers Safety: Developing Guidelines for an Integrated Safety Strategy Academic research paper on "Economics and business"

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Abstract of research paper on Economics and business, author of scientific article — Pierre Van Elslande

Abstract The safety of powered two-wheelers riders (mopeds, scooters motorcycles) is of growing concern in many countries members of the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development). Over the last decade, while road safety has in most countries significantly improved, the number of casualties among motorcyclists has not benefited from the same pace of progress and in many cases has either stabilized or increased. The Joint Transport Research Centre (JTRC) of the International Transport Forum (ITF) at the OECD launched, in September 2010, a Working Group on “Motorcycling Safety and Mobility” with the view to produce by the end of 2012 a report, based on most recent research analysis, with policy recommendations on measures to improve the safety of riders, applicable in the short to medium term.

Academic research paper on topic "The ITF/OECD Working Group on Powered Two-Wheelers Safety: Developing Guidelines for an Integrated Safety Strategy"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 48 (2012) 982 - 991

Transport Research Arena- Europe 2012

The ITF/OECD working group on powered two-wheelers safety: developing guidelines for an integrated safety strategy

Pierre Van Elslandea*

aIfsttar, 304 Chemin de la Croix Blanche, Salon-de-Provence 13300, France


The safety of powered two-wheelers riders (mopeds, scooters motorcycles) is of growing concern in many countries members of the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development). Over the last decade, while road safety has in most countries significantly improved, the number of casualties among motorcyclists has not benefited from the same pace of progress and in many cases has either stabilized or increased. The Joint Transport Research Centre (JTRC) of the International Transport Forum (ITF) at the OECD launched, in September 2010, a Working Group on "Motorcycling Safety and Mobility" with the view to produce by the end of 2012 a report, based on most recent research analysis, with policy recommendations on measures to improve the safety of riders, applicable in the short to medium term.

© 22012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer review under responsibility of the Programme Committee of the Transport Research Arena 2012

Keywords: Motorcycling; Safety; Crashes; Factors; Policy

1. Introduction

The global status report on road safety launched by the World Health Organization in June 2009 (WHO, 2009) gives a broad assessment of the road safety situation in 178 countries, using data drawn from a standardized survey. The results attest that road traffic injuries remain an important public health problem, overall in the world and particularly for low-income and middle-income countries. It is well established in that report that pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists make up almost half of those killed on the roads, highlighting the need for these road users to be given more attention in road safety programs.

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +33 490 568 619 ; fax: +33 490 568 651 E-mail address:

1877-0428 © 2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer review under responsibility of the Programme Committee of the Transport Research Arena 2012


The present paper focuses on one part of these vulnerable road users: the powered two-wheelers (PTW: mopeds, scooters motorcycles), on the basis of the work performed by the on-going "Motorcycling Safety and Mobility" Working Group conducted under the auspices of the International Transport Forum (ITF) at the OECD. The group comprises a wide range of experts including civil engineers, psychologists, statisticians, policy advisors, motorcycle training authorities and urban planners. These experts have been nominated by national delegations of the following countries represented in the Working Group: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States, and also the European Commission.

Beforehand of this working group, a first step of work has been conducted in Lillehammer in June 2008, where an international workshop was organized bringing together researchers, policy makers, industry, motorcyclists associations. And at this workshop was established a number of areas for improving the safety of motorcycles, which deserve further investigation (OECD/ITF, 2008a). The main recommendations came from the Lillehammer Workshop are described in Box 1.

Box 1. Main recommendations of the Lillehammer Workshop, June 2008

The following general principles and priority measures illustrate the key conclusions and recommendations of the Lillehammer Workshop.

General principles

• Co-operation between the various stakeholders: Improving safety for motorcyclists implies to set up a continuing dialogue and co-operation between the various stakeholders, including the motorcyclists themselves, policy makers, researchers, and motorcycle manufacturers

• Include motorcycles and PTW concerns in transport policy and infrastructure policy/ management

• Research and evaluation: Counter measures need to be founded on evidence-based scientific research into driver and rider behavior, and before-and-after evaluations should be conducted.

Priority Measures

Priority measures were classified into the following categories: human factors; social and cultural factors; vehicle; and infrastructure. The priority measures listed below are not exhaustive and the classification should not be seen as a rigid framework.


• Training programs for motorcyclists should be adapted to each country and focus on risk awareness and risk avoidance, and develop an understanding of the rider/motorcycle capacities and limitations.

• Improved training for general drivers: A component on awareness and acceptance of motorcyclists should be included in the general training for all drivers.

• Targeted integrated awareness campaigns, addressing both motorcyclists and other road users, supported where necessary by other actions, e.g. enforcement, focused on mutual respect, protective equipment, speed, alcohol and drug issues

• Protective equipment for riders. Promotion and adoption of standards, taking into account the climate / regions

Social / culturalfactors

• Get safety messages to the riders. Safety messages to riders should be developed in partnership with rider groups, in order to use the effectiveness of peer advice in communicating key issues to riders on issues that will impact their communities

• Develop awareness of motorcyclists and mutual respect between road users. Education activities and campaigns should be set up from childhood, to emphasize that "road safety means road sharing"

Road environment and infrastructure

• Adoption of guidelines for the development of road infrastructure, at each level of government to include, measures for accommodating motorcycles

• Training for road designers


• Introduce advanced braking systems, including combined brake systems and anti-lock-brake systems

• Enhanced awareness of motorcycles should be incorporated into the development of all vehicle ITS projects

• Improve rider/motorcycle conspicuity (i.e. visibility for other road users)_

The objectives of the present working group are to build on the conclusions of this former Lillehammer workshop so as to review in more detail the various avenues which could improve the safety of motorcyclists, and also to study the results of more recent research work which has been carried out in OECD countries. The general topics that will be addressed by the group in its final report, to be published in 2012, are the following:

1.1. Evolution of thefleet ofpowered two-wheelers and of their riders

Mobility patterns of PTWs have changed in many countries, notably where congestion has contributed to a recent explosion in the use of scooters in urban areas. Also motorcycling as a leisure pursuit has seen an increase in a number of countries.

The Working Group is analyzing the recent evolution in the use of PTWs and their role in mobility. This analysis makes a distinction between different types of PTW (mopeds, scooters and motorcycles) and describes the main characteristics of motorcyclists' journeys in OECD/ITF countries, taking into account geographical differences.

1.2. Motorcycle crashes: accident scenarios and contributingfactors

This chapter will analyze typical crash scenarios and contributing factors. The Working Group will review and synthesize the most recent knowledge on accident causation, based on recent in-depth studies in the OECD/ITF countries.

The Working Group will also focus on trying to further documented areas that were identified in Lillehammer by requesting more research to understand accident causation, including the role of poor perceptions (by riders or other road users) in accident scenarios; the interrelationship between human and external factors (vehicle, environment); and the limits to the ability of drivers and riders to overcome the difficulties they meet on the road.

1.3. Levers for action

The Working Group reviews measures to improve motorcycling safety, highlighting best practices. This review will encompass in particular:

• Licensing;

• Training;

• Equipment for riders;

• Actions targeting behavior, including incentives and enforcement;

• Improvement of the road environment;

• The opportunities arising from new vehicle technologies.

1.4. Developing and implementing an integrated road safety strategy for motorcyclists

This chapter outlines the need for a strategic approach regarding PTW safety, by integrating efforts and guiding the allocation of resources toward initiatives that have proven benefits. The structure of this chapter follows the recommended approach of the OECD's Towards Zero - Ambitious Road Safety Targets and the Safe System Approach (OECD/ITF, 2008b):

• Adopt a highly ambitious vision for road safety;

• Set interim targets to move systematically towards the vision;

• Develop a Safe System approach, essential for achieving ambitious targets;

• Exploit proven interventions for early gains;

• Conduct sufficient data collection and analysis to understand crash risks and current performance;

• Strengthen the road safety management system;

• Accelerate knowledge transfer;

• Invest in road safety.

1.5. Situation in low- and middle-income countries

While the high income countries are looking back on a decade with record reductions in road fatalities, the picture is not shared in many countries undergoing rapid motorisation and where the number of traffic causalities is increasing year after year. The United Nations is therefore launching a Decade of Action for Road Safety with the aim of stabilising and then reducing global road deaths by 2020. Road crashes kill at least 1.3 million people worldwide each year and injure 50 million, 90% of these road casualties are in low and middle income countries. The UN resolution reaffirms the critical importance of addressing road safety issues and the need for the further strengthening of international cooperation, particularly to meet the needs of low-income and middle-income countries (OECD/ITF, 2011). That is the reason why the working group decided to put forward a specific chapter dedicated to this question, even if the overall report mainly focuses on industrialized countries. This chapter - based on case studies from selected countries - will highlight the specific issues of PTW safety in low and middle-income countries and how the measures recommended in this report can be adapted to the specific needs of developing countries.

1.6. Recommendations

The report will end with a set of conclusions and recommendations mainly directed to national policy makers and their advisors, on measures to improve the safety of PTWs riders, applicable in the short to medium term.

In the present article, a focus will be put upon the essential questions dealing with the safety problems with which PTWs' riders are confronted. An important work of the group is, as a matter of fact, addressed to reviewing and synthesizing the most recent knowledge on accident facts and accident causation, based on recent statistical and in-depth studies in the OECD/ITF countries. The purpose is both to present the

general trends in accidents and to analyze the different forms that take the main accident scenarios and the factors contributing to their production.

2. Trends in Powered-Two-Wheeler (PTW) Rider Fatalities

According to OECD/ITF (2011), the first ten years of the 21st century saw the lowest levels of road deaths since systematic reporting began in most member countries of the International Transport Forum. Data indicate an overall decline in road fatalities of nearly 6% for 2010 compared to 2009, continuing the favorable trend in 2009 when the number of road fatalities fell nearly 10%. The number of people killed on the roads declined in 2010, or remained stable, in all of the thirty countries for which data is available. The effects of the economic crisis on road traffic perhaps partly explain this favorable development, due to less mobility, but there is also strong evidence that effective road safety policies contributed to this. There is also a decrease in the number of seriously injured road users in nearly all IRTAD countries, even if this reduction was less marked than for fatalities (OECD/ITF, 2011). But, as a whole, there is an important progress in road safety in most OECD countries.

H Australia Austria Czech Republic Denmark Finland France Ö Geece Hungary Ireland Israel 35 Japan (2008) Korea Nehterlands NewZeland Poland Portutal Slovenia Spain c IE (0 t= (U N UK US (2008)

2000 191 156 116 71 19 1392 1102 502 85 39 45 1407 1847 1564 196 31 46 253 483 40 866 49 111 612 2897

2009 224 117 94 42 38 1186 749 443 96 27 33 1249 1033 1240 122 48 29 358 192 32 594 58 86 488 5312

Fig. 1. Evolution in the percentage and number of fatalities between 2000 and 2009 in OECD countries (source: OECD/ITF 2011)

The problem is that PTWs did not benefit from this progress. As a mater of fact, the figures on road accidents do show that motorcycling safety has become a crucial challenge nearly everywhere in the world, insofar as even in the places where there are good results in road safety, there results are far less

obvious when it comes to motorcycles, with at best a lower decrease in the number of fatalities. And the result of this general increase in safety for other road users is that there is nearly everywhere a proportional augmentation of the rate of deaths and injuries for motorcyclists on the road. Such results reveal that this particular road user's group has not benefit in the same from the important progress made during the past decade and the necessity to study specifically this question and to find specific solutions for them. An analysis country by country (Fig.l) indicates - while everywhere the number of persons killed on the road decreased - the countries where this decline was less effective for motorcycles, and those for whom the situation worsened for them.

An illustration of the relative trends in the number of traffic fatalities and motorcyclists killed in the three main regions of the OECD is presented in Fig. 2. A sharp increase can be observed in the number of motorcyclists killed in North America, and a moderate decrease in the other regions. When compared to the overall traffic fatalities, it is evident that measures specifically dedicated to motorcycles are to be considered. While on average, IRTAD countries have seen a reduction by around 27% in the number of persons killed in a traffic crash in 2000-2009, the number of motorcyclists killed increased by 1%. The discrepancy is particularly obvious in North America. In the United States, the number of motorcyclists killed increased by 86% between 2000 and 2008, while the number of fatalities decreased by 20%. 2009, however, was marked by a sharp 17% decrease, most likely due to decreased motorcycling activity associated with harsh economic conditions.

- Total Fatalities -Motorcycle fatalities -Total Fatalities -Motorcycle fatalities

Total Fatalities Motorcycle fatalities

Note. OECD "Asia Pacific " includes: Australia, Japan, Korea and New Zealand

Fig. 2. Relative trends in the number of total deaths and PTW fatalities in 2000-2009 for (a) Europe; (b) Asia-Pacific; (c) North America (Source: IRTAD)

Moreover, some more precisions can be gained by considering the type of PTW which are more specifically concerned by the safety problems. For example, it can be seen in Fig. 3, that in many European countries -including: Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Finland, Sweden and United Kingdom- an important increase in fatalities is observed between 1997 and 2006 for motorcycles exclusively, while at the same time there is a significant decrease for all other road users' groups, including moped, in connection with a decline of popularity of this type of PTW vehicles in these countries.

Fig. 3. Index (1997=100) ofmotorcycle and moped fatalities compared with other modes EU-14, 1997-2006 (from ERSO, 2008).

3. Characteristics of PTWs' accident patterns

According to the European Road Safety Observatory website (SafetyNet, 2009), the three most common crash scenarios for motorized two-wheeled vehicles (motorcycles and mopeds) are as follows:

• Scenario 1: The motorcyclist/moped rider has a single vehicle crash while riding along a road and losing control at a bend.

• Scenario 2: The motorcyclist/moped rider approaches a junction and hits or is hit by a car driver who fails to see the two-wheeler in time.

• Scenario 3: A car driver turns left and fails to see a motorcyclist/moped rider coming in the opposite direction.

There is of course a multiplicity of more precisely defined scenarios that will be developed in the OECD/ITF final report, but these ones aggregate a large part of the accident risks faced by PTWs riders on the road. Behind these scenarios, the factors which contribute to their production can be put forward. Every accident is a complex event involving most of the time an interaction of several factors affecting the different component: the drivers, the vehicles and the infrastructures involved.

3.1. Driver-relatedfactors

Driver-related factors are often considered as the main cause of accident, sometimes forgetting that a road crash is most of the time the result of a combination of factors, and also forgetting that human behavior as a whole is under the influence of the environment, the vehicle and the traffic around. It is nevertheless essential to put forward these human factors as far as they reveal drivers' difficulties and weaknesses face to traffic situations.

A review of the 23,322 fatal motorcycle crashes (involving at least one motorcycle occupant fatality per crash) in U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data for 2004 through 2008 shown several motorcycle driver-related behaviors prevalent in fatal crashes (see Table 1). The five most prevalent motorcycle driver-related behaviors in fatal crashes were: driving too fast for conditions or in excess of posted speed limit (8,646 crashes = 37.1%); failure to keep in proper lane (5,996 crashes = 25.7%); under influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication (3,571 crashes = 15.3%); inattentive/careless (1,961 crashes = 8.4%); and operating vehicle in erratic, reckless, careless, or negligent manner or at erratic or suddenly changing speeds (1,487 crashes = 6.4%). During the same period, there were 140,560 fatal crashes of vehicles other than motorcycles (involving at least one non-motorcycle occupant fatality per crash) in the United States. By comparison, the five most prevalent driver-related factors in fatal crashes resulting in non-motorcycle occupant fatalities were the same as for fatal motorcycle crashes, although the most prevalent driver-related factor for non-motorcycle fatal crashes was failure to keep in proper lane (41.5%).

Table 1. Motorcycle driver-Related Factors in Fatal Crashes of Motorcycles versus Other Vehicles in the United States, 2004-2008

Percentage Percentage of Fatal of Fatal Non-Motorcycle motorcycle

Driver-Related Factor Crashes Crashes

Driving too fast for conditions or in excess of posted speed limit 37.1 29.5

Failure to keep In proper lane 25.7 41.5

Under Influence of alcohol, drugs, ormedlcatlon 15.3 18.9

Inattentive/careless 8.4 9.8

Operating vehicle In erratic, reckless, careless, or negligent manner or at erratic or suddenlychanglng speeds 6.4 5.8

Non-moving traffic violation 3.5 2.4

Failure to obey traffic actual signs, traffic control devices or traffic officers, failure to observe safety zone traffic laws 2.9 5.0

Making Improper turn 2.5 3.9

Operator Inexperience 2.5 0.8

Failure to yield right of way 2.1 8.0

Over correcting 1.7 7.9

Following Improperly 1.5 0.8

Driver has not complied with physical or other Imposed restrictions 1.5 0.5

Passing with Insufficient distance or Inadequate visibility or falling to yield to overtaking vehicle 1.4 0.8

Improper or erratic lane changing 1.3 1.1

Avoiding, swerving, or sliding due to live animals In road 1.3 0.4

Operating without required equipment 1.2 1.5

Driving on wrong side of road (Intentionally or unintentionally) 0.9 1.8

High-speed chase with police in pursuit 0.9 0.7

Passing where prohibited by signs, pavement markings, hill or curve, or school bus warning not to pass 0.8 0.4

But data gained from police accident reports cannot provide all the detailed information involved in accident causation. It is necessary for that to get more thorough data, notably from in-depth accident studies. For example, a large European study (MAIDS, 2004) examined in depth over 900 crashes in five countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands) involving a motorized two-wheeled vehicle They notably concluded that in the case of a PTW crash involving another road user, the driver of the other vehicle could be considered as more often legally "at fault" (50%) than the rider of the PTW (37%). So, when dealing with human factors in PTWs accident, the analysis must not be limited to the PTW riders, notably for accidents occurring in interaction with others. The factors affecting cars drivers faced to PTWs must also be taken into account.

Effectively, still according to MAIDS study, in 36.6% of all cases involving a PTW, the primary factor responsible for the accident was a perception failure on the part of the other vehicle driver. In the same vein and also with the help of in-depth accident data, Jaffard, & van Elslande (2011) have shown that, independently of the question of responsibility, drivers involved in a crash with a PTW meet a detection problem in 60% of cases; while these problems of detection represent 45% of failures in car crashes not involving two-wheelers. As a consequence, there is an over-representation of detection problems in two-wheelers vehicle accidents, which suggests a specific problem of detectability (conspicuity) for these road users.

The Working Group is also focusing on trying to further document those areas requesting more research to understand accident causality, including the role of poor perceptions in accident scenarios; the interrelationship between human and external factors (vehicle, environment); and the limits to the ability of drivers and riders to overcome the difficulties they meet on the road. And as a matter of fact, the problem of perception is a complex issue that cannot be reduced to the simple fact that PTWs are physically less visible than other vehicles. There are many causes behind the poor detectability of PTWs and these are often connected to each other and with the general parameters of the driving context. Indeed, this problem can be explained by the visual characteristics of PTWs, by the sensory capacities of the human perceptual system, by the atypical behavior of PTWs, by the level of attention and the expectations that road users develop on the basis of their experience and the information provided but the others and by the environment.

3.2. Environment-relatedfactors

The fact is that the environment can act more or less directly on the difficulties met by the different road users, sometimes beyond the accident spot by inciting certain behaviors; sometimes very close to the accident scene, e.g. by impeding visibility. This makes it difficult to precisely quantify the influence of environment in the production of crashes. However, according to MAIDS study (2004) the road and its environment are considered the primary cause for 7.7% of all analyzed PTW accidents. Additionally, the road environment was found to contribute to the final outcome of the accident in 14.6% of these accidents. But should also be mentioned the more general influence that the environment have on driving speed, the level of vigilance, the attention paid, etc. On the other hand, it must also be kept in mind that road environment factors can have an important influence on the accident severity, even more specifically when it comes to PTWs. By such, it can be considered that there is behind the environment an important levier of action allowing promoting a safe behavior from the part of the drivers.

3.3. Vehicles-relatedfactors

Vehicle factors are considered as an infrequent problem in motorcycling accidents. For example in MAIDS study (MAIDS, 2004), only 3.7% of cases involved a PTW tire problem and 1.2% a brake problem. But, once again, this does not mean that no amelioration to the vehicle could be beneficial for the safety of PTW riders. On the contrary, it can be considered that PTW did not benefit from safety technological improvement to the same level as cars, notably when dealing with braking. As for the environment, the vehicle parameters constitute a decisive lever of action for safety. This includes not only the vehicle defects, which are generally speaking more an issue for moped than for motorcycles (also an important issue in LMIC), but also all the potential improvement in controllability, conspicuity, etc.

4. Discussion: toward an integrated safety strategy

Road safety has been traditionally focused on the relative contribution of the driver, the vehicle and the road in crash causation, most often leading to the conclusion that road users are the most responsible for

crashes. The Safe System approach constitutes an important change of view, shifting from an approach placing almost sole responsibility for safety on the road user, to an approach asking for an intrinsically safe environment (OECD/ITF, 2008b). Such an approach finds its roots in ergonomics works and has been implemented in the traffic domain by the Swedish 'Vision Zero' (Tingvall, 1997) and the Dutch 'Sustainable Safety' (Wegman & Aarts, 2006) approaches. The Safe System approach asks the system designers and all the professionals involved in the traffic system functioning to provide an intrinsically safe environment. To reach to this end, a whole set of actions must be led in an integrated way, resorting to all the components of the system of traffic so as to promote overall safety for its users: stimulate adapted behavior, prevent misbehaviors, forgive potential mistakes and protect the human body.

Toward this purpose, all the leviers able at improve road safety for their users must be integrated into a general policy. The proposition of such guidelines for motorcycling safety will be the last result of the work performed by the OECD/ITF working group.


The author would like to thank all the active members of the OECD/ITF Working Group on Motorcycling Safety and Mobility for their efficient and fruitful contribution, with a special mention to Veronique Feypell thanks to whom this working group could exist.


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