Road safety: trucks versus bikes

Over a third of traffic fatalities and over two-thirds of seriously injured traffic in the Netherlands are cyclists. The death rate of cyclists (the number of traffic fatalities per distance traveled) is more than eight times higher than that of motorists but more than three times lower than that of motorized two-wheelers.

Almost three-quarters of fatal bicycle casualties and more than half of seriously injured cyclists are people aged 60 and older. Dutch SWOV analyzed it. Bicycle accidents are often the result of a combination of vehicle, road, and behavioral factors. The bicycle is a balanced vehicle, so cyclists can quickly lose their balance, for example, when getting on and off the bike or on an uneven road surface.

Trucks and vans

Trucks and vans were involved in 22% of fatal crashes involving bicyclists in 2021. That is related to mileage 2 times as often for passenger cars; 1.1 times as often for vans, and 3 times as often for trucks.

A reliable breakdown by, for example, location, day of the week, and time of day of accidents involving seriously injured cyclists is not possible based on the unavailable accident data. In 2025 the ambition of the national government is to have these data publicly available nationwide, but that is still a long way off.

Cyclists are relatively often the victims of blind spot accidents. Between 2008 and 2016, an average of 10 to 11 deaths occurred annually in the Netherlands due to blind spot accidents involving a truck or van, of which an average of 8 to 9 were cyclists. As of 2017, it is impossible to determine the number of deaths in blind spot accidents due to failing registration in the Netherlands.

Improving road safety

A cyclist has no protection in a collision or fall, unlike car occupants with roll cages and airbags. Therefore, cyclists are vulnerable road users. A bicycle helmet can significantly prevent serious brain injuries in an accident.

Measures to improve the safety of cyclists are separating cyclists in time (rush hour avoidance) and space from motorized traffic, making bicycles more stable, applying advanced safety systems to vehicles, and improving information and education for both drivers and cyclists.

Walther Ploos van Amstel.

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