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Measures designed to reduce streetcar accidents

The Germany-wide analysis carried out by the UDV of over 4,100 streetcar accidents involving injury in the period from 2009 to 2011 showed that around 86 percent of these accidents happened at an intersection or within the sphere of influence of an intersection. Pedestrians (75 percent) and cyclists (16 percent) accounted for most of the fatalities in streetcar accidents. Pedestrians and car occupants were disproportionately often seriously injured. Around half of those with slight injuries were streetcar occupants. 

The study revealed that streetcar accidents are significantly more severe than accidents involving cars or buses. In terms of number of fatalities, streetcars have to be categorized as an unsafe means of transport. In relation to distance driven, more people are killed in streetcar accidents than in accidents with cars or buses, and in relation to the number of people transported, around the same number are killed as in car accidents.

In only 15 percent of the accidents analyzed was the driver of the streetcar the main causer. Overall, around half of the accidents involving streetcars were caused by car drivers, mainly at intersections. Pedestrians cause around every fifth streetcar accident involving injury, above all at streetcar stops and on the open track.

Streetcars are safest when the tracks are aligned at the side of the road or on a separate track bed. In these cases it is important, above all, to ensure there are enough safe crossing points for pedestrians. The least safe configuration for streetcars is a three- or four-lane road with a separate streetcar trackbed in the middle.

In particular, the study recommends the provision of a sufficient number of safe crossing points for pedestrians and cyclists and the development of suitable campaigns to sensitize all road users.