The Centre began life in 1973 as the Road Accident Research Unit (RARU) with the planning and undertaking of an in-depth study of road accidents in the Adelaide metropolitan area. From 1981 through 1998, the Unit's work was supported by a grant from the National Health And Medical Research Council.
During that grant period RARU's research program was concentrated in two areas: the study of brain injury mechanisms in fatally injured road users and the epidemiology of drink driving and alcohol related crashes. Notably, an investigation of the influence of vehicle speed in fatal pedestrian accidents led on to case control studies of the relationship between a driver's travelling speed and risk of involvement in a casualty crash in both urban and rural areas.
RARU's analysis of the occurrence of brain injury in road crashes called into question the then prevailing paradigm of brain injury mechanisms. This prompted the development of an experimental study of axonal injury that, in turn, led to the Japan Automobile Research Institute initiating a formal collaborative research agreement with RARU, and now with CASR, in the area of crash injury biomechanics.
Also a part of our legacy is that over 40 years ago the Centre's previous Director, Professor Jack McLean, co-authored the first paper in the world to show that car design played a major role in pedestrian protection, revealing that pedestrians are run under, not over, by the striking car.