Risk of crashing with a tram: Perceptions of pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - car, mode - bike, mode - pedestrian, mode - tram/light rail, planning - safety/accidents, place - europe


Perceived risk, Comparative risk judgments, Judgment realism, Tram crashes, Road users



Road users not abiding by the rule of tram priority has increased the number of crashes between trams and other road users. This study focuses on the perceptions of pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists regarding the risk of crashes with trams. The first aim was to examine how these road users assess the risk of tram crashes with themselves and with other road users of the same age and type. The second aim was to look into whether and to what extent road users’ comparative judgments about tram risk are realistic in terms of their self-reported behavior.


The study sample included 973 road users (379 pedestrians, 146 cyclists, and 448 motorists). Three versions of a questionnaire were constructed to assess risk perceptions concerning interactions between these road users and trams, self-reported behavior, and knowledge of the tram-priority rules.


The results showed that all three types of road users perceived the risk of a crash between a tram and themselves to be very low (M = 1.53, SD = 0.88) and with other users to be higher (M = 2.28, SD = 1.06); they therefore expressed comparative optimism. The results also revealed realistic optimism among pedestrians and unrealistic optimism among young motorists.


The present study shows that, as a whole, road users have little awareness of crash risks with trams. It may therefore be worthwhile to increase communication about the priority of trams, and to persuade road users not to violate this rule.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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