EU research main conclusions

This section compiles a selection of relevant extracts from EU-financed research projects in relation with Infrastructure. These projects are available on the ERSO website (latest consulted on 15/03/2015).

The comprehensive list of selected extracts is available in Annex 21.

Contributing factors

  •  Motorcycles have very different road performance characteristics than other types of vehicles. Certain manoeuvres and road conditions carry a higher risk to motorcyclists than to drivers. The road environment has a significant influence on the risk of crashes involving motorcyclists. Contributing factors include:
    • Interaction with larger vehicles (cars, trucks)
    • Road surface issues (such as roughness, potholes or debris on the road)
    • Water, oil or moisture on the road
    • Excessive line marking or use of raised pavement markers (a.k.a structured road markings assemblies or rumble strips in EN 1871)
    • Poor road alignment
    • Presence of roadside hazards and unprotected safety barriers
    • Number of vehicles and other motorcyclists using the route. (EURORAP)
  • Since PTWs travel at higher speeds than other VRUs, they are often only regarded as vulnerable on second thought. On the one hand, PTWs are much faster than pedestrians or cyclists; on the other hand, such speed becomes a higher risk, e.g. in the presence of roadside obstacles. Another risk factor is the difference in mass between the colliding opponents. (PILOT4SAFETY)
  • Infrastructural measures to reduce speeds (such as humps or lane narrowing) have to be re-evaluated from the point of view of PTW rider safety. (PROMISING).
  • Identified problems related to infrastructure. (ROSA)
    • Lack of consideration of motorcycles and motorcyclists during road design from a road safety point of view
    • Lack of road design guidelines for roundabouts
    • Lack of road design guidelines for intersections
    • Lack of interaction with infrastructure in intersections
    • Lack of guidelines for traffic calming systems
    • Lack of anti-skid properties and lack of reflectivity
    • Excessive line-marking
    • Continuous change of the road surface state
    • Lack of anti-skid properties
    • Lack of knowledge about general recommendations related to road surfaces maintenance and skid resistance
    • Lack of knowledge about interaction between potholes and road safety
    • Lack of knowledge about interaction between dry goods, dusts and oil and road safety
    • Harmful design of roadsides
    • Poor maintenance of shoulders
    • Lack of information about existing products and current standards
    • Lack of recommendations about vertical signs and traffic lights
    • Lack of definition of road safety audits from motorcyclist point of view
    • Interaction among motorcyclists and the rest of road users
    • The problem of blackspots and allocation of accidents
    • The problem of road work: signaling
    • Intelligent transport systems (infrastructure) and motorcycle safety

Rural roads

  • In the EU, around 32% of people killed on rural roads are VRU: 10% pedestrians, 5% cyclists and 17% riders of mopeds or motorcycles. (PILOT4SAFETY/ETSC)
  • The analysis of the literature and the successive in-depth accident study show that there is a lack of data and there is a need for more in-depth PTWs accident studies. (SMART RRS)

Understanding of vehicle-road interactions

  • Making the road infrastructure “motorcycle friendly”, self-explaining and forgiving needs an in-depth understanding of the vehicle-road interaction and its dynamics. (2BESAFE)
  • Research on accident scenarios and biomechanics is a prerequisite to work at improving infrastructure for PTWs. (ROSA)
  • Detailed analysis with simulation tools (vehicle-infrastructure interaction simulation), as well as incorporation of data gathered in naturalistic riding studies, should take place in coming PTW related research projects. (2BESAFE)
  • A strong need for further research regarding the interaction between motorcycle tyres and road surface condition. (2BESAFE)

Loss of control

  • Both mopeds and motorcycles have some special characteristics which directly or indirectly contribute to their relatively high number of accidents. They are single track vehicles, without a bodywork. The fact that they are single track vehicles means that the rider has some difficult handling tasks while controlling the vehicle, in particular during cornering or braking maneuvers and even more so in emergency situations to mitigate or avoid incidents. The single track character also implies that riders have more difficulty coping with imperfect road surfaces and obstacles on the road. This does not seem to be fully recognised by some road authorities. (PROMISING)
  • Preventing loss of control of a PTW and mitigating the consequences of the possible accidents are two areas where infrastructure has a key role to play. (2BESAFE)
  • The influence of skid resistance has to be discussed in future PTW safety research from another point of view, as it is expected that the macro texture of the road surface has an higher impact on PTW safety. (2BESAFE)

Road surface

  • Road design should take into account the special needs of riders of PTWs in terms of both the design and maintenance of the road. These riders are much more vulnerable to imperfections of the road surface than car drivers, and special requirements have to be recognized for road markings, road surface repairs, longitudinal grooves, drainage etc. (DACOTA)
  • The environment for the PTW rider is quite different when compared to other forms of road transportation because PTWs and PTW riders are more sensitive to roadway conditions within the transportation environment. Surface deterioration or damaged bitumen (i.e., broken or separated asphalt, cracks, etc.) was found on 26% of all roadways; road surfaces had defects in 30% of cases. (MAIDS)

Roadside furniture

  • The available studies show that the impact of motorcyclists against a fixed object occurred in 4% of the cases in urban areas while it varies between 10% and 20% in rural areas which can seems a small figure. However, a fatal outcome is 2 to 5 times more likely for an impact with a crash barrier than for motorcycle accidents in general. (SMART RRS)
  • Existing rails have not been designed for collisions by PTWs and may cause severe injuries to their riders. The costs of fitting these devices can be reduced by selecting road sections where collisions by motorcycles are more frequent, i.e. in tight curves in rural areas. (DACOTA)
  • Wire Rope Safety Barriers are viewed by motorcyclists as the most aggressive form of RRS. This view is supported by computer simulations and tests, which indicate that injuries will be severe if a rider hits the cables or the support. (SMART RRS)
  • Despite the fact that some countries have already established their own regulations for testing motorcyclist protection systems (France, Spain, Portugal), existing systems still have very different designs and effectiveness, and the development path needs to be increased. (SMART RRS)
  • Most motorcycle collisions with crash barriers occurred at shallow angles (typically between 10° and 45°) with the rider typically sliding into the barrier at a bend. However, the in-depth study has demonstrated that larger impact angle are also possible and must be taken into account. (SMART RRS)
  • Risk for motorized two wheelers is particularly high and solutions are needed to minimize the severity of injuries resulting from their impact with roadside furniture. (DACOTA)
  • In the future, cars and roadside obstacles have to be designed to provide better protection for riders of mopeds/motorcycles who collide with them. (PROMISING)

High risk sites

  • Characteristics of PTW accident spots are in some points comparable within the European context, but other black spots specifications are even in one country unique – statistically insignificant, but highly dangerous. (2BESAFE)
  • An added problem is that the black spots for motorcycle accidents are unclear, as they are wide spread through the road network. (SMARTRRS)

Safe system approach

  • Road infrastructure should be designed taking account of the same injury tolerance criteria as those developed for vehicle occupant protection and pedestrian impacts, so that roads and vehicles together provide an effective safety system. The principles of self-explaining and forgiving road environments should be applied to all road users, with special care for PTW safety issues. (DACOTA)
  • Road authorities seem to have neglected the special needs of riders of PTWs in terms of the design and maintenance of the road surface and fixed roadside objects. These authorities have to be informed on these special needs and special requirements have to be developed based on these needs for road markings, road surface repairs, longitudinal grooves, drainage, timing of traffic lights (for longer braking distances on wet surface) etc. (PROMISING)

Road Safety Audits/ Road Safety Inspections

  • It should become common practise within the holistic approach of road safety management to include VRU safety; or to use (separate) checklists for VRU e.g. in RSI or RSA, to guarantee the specific focus on that road user group. (PILOT4SAFETY)
  • Guardrails have been designed for car collisions, but have adverse consequences in case of motorcycle collisions. Special studies from the point of motorcycle safety have to be done to result in special requirements for the design and location of guardrails. (PROMISING)

Standards

  • Current standards related to road marking cover some aspects (products, durability tests, performance parameters,…), and these standards must be applied by the road marking manufacturers; some of these standards should be improved from the motorcyclist’s safety point of view of view. (ROSA)
  • 50% of the PTW accidents against a road restraint system, the rider is still in an upright riding position when the impact occurs, with the associated risks of being thrown on or over the barrier. Currently, this scenario is not considered in existing standards and is not included in the CEN/TS 1317-8. Moreover, very few studies have been performed to assess this scenario up to now. This configuration represents a scenario to be considered in future work. (SMARTRRS)

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The work presented in this document is supported by the European Union’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport – Directorate C: Innovative & sustainable mobility (C.4 Road Safety) (Grant agreement MOVE/C4/SUB/2010-125/SI2.603201/RIDERSCAN). The content of this document is the sole responsibility of the Federation of European Motorcyclists’ Associations (FEMA) and it does not represent the opinion of the European Union and the European Union is not responsible or liable for any use that might be made of information contained herein.