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The University of Southampton

New course for cyclists aims to reduce collisions on roads

Published: 26 August 2020

Researchers at the University of Southampton have launched the next phase of their online training courses aiming to reduce the number of accidents on the road, this time looking to improve cyclists’ understanding of interacting with drivers on the road.

Earlier this summer the team from the University’s Human Factors in Engineering group launched the first phase which looked to increase drivers’ understanding of how cyclists use the road. This new phase has been designed to help cyclists who never or rarely drive see the road through the eyes of motor vehicle users.  

The decline in public transport use as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic will see more people travelling by car and bicycle in the coming months and cyclists are disproportionately represented in accident statistics. In 2016 over 18,000 cyclists were injured in road accidents in the UK, 3499 of whom were killed or seriously injured. On average in Southampton 124 cyclists are involved in collisions on the city’s roads each year, making up 16% of all accidents despite representing only 1.4% of daily traffic.

The course has been developed in partnership with Cycling UK and with funding from the Road Safety Trust.

Users will have access to interactive exercises and videos that explain how drivers should behave in various scenarios such as at crossroads and on roundabouts, and how cyclists can safely interact with motor vehicles to reduce the risk of collisions. It is the final product of studies carried out by the researchers over the past year, which has included gathering information from volunteer drivers and cyclists on their day to day journeys and from focus group discussions.

A practical driving course in the University’s driving simulator will also be available to everyone who registers once the Government’s advice on social distancing means it is safe to carry out.  

Dr Katie Plant, Lecturer in Human Factors in Engineering at the University of Southampton, who is leading the study said: “Despite the high risks of cycling on our busy roads, most cyclists will never receive any training on how to interact with cars apart from taking the cycling proficiency test when they are at school. We now have courses available for drivers and cyclists that will be a refresher for what they have learnt previously and also provide some advanced, in-depth training that may not have covered when they took their tests first time around .”

Participants will take a questionnaire before and immediately after taking the course, and again several months later so Dr Plant’s team can continually monitor its effectiveness.

Senior Research Assistant Matthew Webster who has developed the course with Dr Plant added:  “The course has been carefully designed based on feedback we have received from cyclists and drivers and this is not about apportioning blame to either party for the amount of collisions that occur. Our approach has been to give all road users a better understanding of each other’s behaviours and why accidents happen. Even the most careful drivers and cyclists can overlook the rules that everyone needs to follow.”

The course is also being launched in time for Cycle September, a global challenge which aims to get more people cycling to work and which has local support in Southampton.

Cyclists interested in taking part can find out more information and register at Drivers who never or rarely cycle can sign up for the drivers' course at the same link.


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