Understanding Public Attitudes to Road User Safety

  • Published: Department for Transport, Road Safety Research Report No. 111, 2010
  • Authors: C. Musselwhite, E. Avinen, Y. Susilo, E. Fulcher, D. Bhattachary, A. Hunter, R. Stockley
  • Date Added: 27 Jun 2013
  • Last Update: 15 Mar 2014
  • Format: html


To provide an in-depth understanding of how the public engage with the issue of road user safety.


The research used qualitative methods and brought together the views of a wide range of adult road users. Specifically, a deliberative approach was used to explore the public’s insights, perceptions and conceptualisation of road user safety and to go beyond their top of mind responses. A total of 240 participants were recruited in 4 areas across the UK (United Kingdom – Bradford,Glasgow,London, north-west Wales). In total, each area had six groups of ten participants. Group composition was based on a life-stage and attitude to road user risk. Each group was reconvened three times in the spring of 2009.

Key Findings:

  • Findings suggest, on the whole, respondents felt that the UK’s roads are fairly safe to use for all modes of transport and are especially safe for cars.

  • However, certain groups of road users were viewed as at greater risk – in particular younger drivers and teenage pedestrians.

  • Motorcyclists were also perceived to be at great risk of an accident.

  • Walking and cycling was largely felt to be less safe than driving, and this was especially true for cycling in city centres (particularly in Glasgowand London) and walking on rural roads.