Youth and cycling - new report states youth are distracted

Youth and cycling - new report states youth are distracted

SWOV - The Institute of Road Safety Research based in The Netherlands have published a new report focusing on the use of technology and cycling. The report suggests that young people are more likely to be distracted while cycling by music players, mobile technology and other distractions and offers recommendations of intervention to the use of technology.


When they are cycling, youths often use devices like music players or mobile phones. Compared with older cyclists, youths are also more likely to indicate that they have been involved in crashes in which the use of mobile devices played a role. The present report presents the search for the most suitable measures and interventions to influence the use of mobile devices by cycling youths in the ages 10 to 17 to accomplish road safety improvement. The search was carried out in the form of a literature study. Note: this method allowed us to assess in advance which interventions are most likely to be successful and which interventions will probably be ineffective.

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Encouraging young people to use positive methods of safe technology is expressed to be a better method in safety promotion than discouraging methods.

Knowledge was gathered about this particular type of problem behaviour (the use of mobile devices while cycling and the risks it entails) and it was established which behaviour is desirable (target behaviour). Furthermore, as many as possible relevant characteristics of the target group (young adolescents, 10-17 years-old) that an effective intervention is to account for were mapped. Based on this knowledge a series of behavioural modification strategies were assessed for their likelihood of influencing the target behaviour and the target group. Recommendations are made concerning the measures most likely to be successful.

The majority of young adolescents have a mobile phone, smartphone or music player. Compared with older age groups, youths also use these devices very much while they are cycling. In addition, they make different use of their mobile devices.

Compared with older age groups:

  • youths more frequently listen to music while they cycle, whereas auditory
  • information is especially important for cyclists;
  • youths carry out more demanding tasks with their devices, like operating
  • the device and reading and sending text messages;
  • youths make less selective use of their devices and take little account of
  • busy traffic or weather conditions;
  • youths experience stronger distraction by operating the devices and their
  • reactions to traffic hazards are less effective; youths have a stronger increase in crash rate due to the use of deviceswhile cycling.

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It has been found that the risk of a crash is 1.4 times higher for cyclists in the age groups 12-17 years-old and 18-34 years-old when they use a device every trip they make, than when they never use any devices. For cyclists older than 35, the relation between the use of devices and bicycle crashes was found not to be significant. These are findings from questionnaire studies, and are therefore based on self- reporting.

You can read the recommendations of the report (from page 8 in English) in the attachments.





SWOV Report - Bycicle Distractions


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