Study: Drivers Don’t Look for Cyclists at Intersections


By Charles Pekow — A new, albeit small, study out of Canada shows that one factor that leads to accidents at corners involves drivers not looking for cyclists. Drivers turning right look more often to the left when making a right turn on a red light, and they’re more likely to notice walkers than bikers.

Researchers looked at only 26 drivers, half of whom also ride bicycles. They also didn’t test real road conditions, only simulations, focusing on where drivers looked.

The intersection at 2100 S and Highland Drive is the heart of Sugarhouse, yet is incredibly unfriendly to pedestrians. The rebuild of Highland will hopefully fix this. Photo by Dave Iltis

Experience counts: The drivers who also ride bikes were more likely to look for bicyclists, such as by glancing to the right mirror or over their shoulder.

The study hints that overall drivers may be more cognizant of pedestrians than cyclists because they see more of the former than the latter, likely because walkers more often appear in groups, so they become more visible.

The authors also note that all drivers studied had been driving at least three years and were between 35 and 54. Findings may differ for other demographics, or in areas with different driving rules.

See “How do drivers allocate visual attention to vulnerable road users when turning at urban intersections?” at


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