Influence of oncoming traffic on drivers’ overtaking of cyclists

Giulio Francesco Bianchi Piccinini*, Claudia Moretto, Huiping Zhou, Makoto Itoh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Active transportation - such as cycling - can provide health benefits to the population. However, cycling safety remains a major threat to favour the use of bicycles and, for this reason, more efforts are needed to reduce the number of crashes involving cyclists. One crash scenario which deserves special attention is driver's overtaking of cyclists since it has an increased likelihood to lead to severe injuries. During the overtaking manoeuvre, the monitoring of subjective risk can influence the decision-making process and lead to different outcomes. In this context, the present driving simulator study aims to investigate how the time to collision between oncoming traffic and subject vehicle affected the overtaking strategy, and the minimum safety margins towards the overtaken cyclist. The results show that a decrease in time to collision against the oncoming vehicle significantly affects the drivers’ overtaking strategy (accelerative vs. flying), inducing more drivers to choose an accelerative overtaking manoeuvre. The decrease in time to collision also produces a decrease in minimum safety margins to the cyclists for drivers who opt for a flying overtaking strategy. Finally, the current research shows that the minimum lateral safety margins were smaller and the mean speed higher in flying manoeuvres compared to accelerative manoeuvres. Overall, the combination of lower safety margins and higher mean speeds in flying overtaking manoeuvres seems to pose a risk for cyclists’ safety. The findings of the study provide some implications for the design of automated driving.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTransportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour
Pages (from-to)378-388
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are grateful to the Swedish National Strategic Transport Grant and to the KAKENHI 26242029 for providing funding for this research, to Junko Kunugi for the assistance during the data collection, to Marco Dozza for the feedback given during the planning of the experiment and to the anonymous reviewers for the helpful comments. As well, the first author would like to thank the staff at the University of Tsukuba for the support received during his stay in Japan and the colleagues at Chalmers University for the interesting discussions. This work has been carried out partly at the University of Tsukuba – Laboratory for Cognitive Systems Science – and partly at SAFER – Vehicle and Traffic Safety Centre at Chalmers, Sweden.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Comfort zone boundary
  • Cycling safety
  • Driving simulator
  • Overtaking strategy
  • Safety margin
  • Speed
  • Human Factors


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