Like-by-like assessment of Road Safety Mode

  • Published: PLOS One 7 (12), 2012
  • Authors: Mindell JS, Leslie D, Wardlaw M
  • Date Added: 15 Mar 2014
  • Last Update: 15 Mar 2014
  • Format: html


To develop a method to more accurately compare the safety of walking, cycling and driving, as modes of travel by age and gender.


Analysis of hospital admissions and deaths in England 2007-9 by age and gender for pedestrians, cyclists and car drivers. Distance travelled was converted to time travelled as a more appropriate measurement for comparison between the two travel modes. A similar analysis is carried out in the Netherlands for comparison.

Key Findings

  • When the risk associated with the three modes of travel are calculated by the hour, the risk is similar across the modes although there is significant variation according to age and gender.

  • Yong makes aged 17-20 years are at five times greater risk when driving compared with cycling.

  • Also, male cyclists aged over 70 years were overall at greatest risk across all three modes.

  • Risks for drivers decrease with age whereas the risk for pedestrians and cyclists increase with age.

  • The authors conclude that when comparing modes of travel using time as a denominator, cycling is not more hazardous than driving, especially for young males.


The study overcomes some of the methodological issues in comparing different transport modes although there are also limitations associated with the methodology using hospital admission records. This meant that results for driver risks did not include third parties killed or seriously injured.