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TitleIn-depth crash investigation at the Centre for Automotive Safety Research
AuthorsBaldock MRJ, Woolley JE, Ponte G, Wundersitz LN, Lindsay VL
TypeConference Paper
AbstractThe Centre for Automotive Safety Research (formerly the Road Accident Research Unit) at the University of Adelaide in South Australia has a history of in-depth crash investigation going back to the 1970s. In recent years, our focus has been on studying factors that contribute to road crashes, with an emphasis on the role of road infrastructure. Our method involves crash notification by the South Australian Ambulance Service and detailed investigation of the crash scene usually before the crash-involved vehicles have been moved. This at-scene data collection is supplemented with police crash reports, Coroner’s reports including autopsy findings for fatal crashes, case notes from hospitals for all injured persons, structured interviews with crash participants and witnesses, and computerised reconstruction of the events of the crash. One of the most notable research findings to emerge from our in-depth work has been the relationship between travelling speed and the risk of crash involvement. By comparing the calculated free speeds of crash-involved vehicles (cases) with the measured speeds of non-crash-involved vehicles travelling on the same roads at the same time of day (controls), we were able to establish that an exponential relationship exists between travelling speed and the likelihood of involvement in a casualty crash. This was the case for both metropolitan and rural areas. This research prompted the reduction of some speed limits in Australia, which has resulted in notable decreases in crash numbers. Another finding of interest in our recent investigation of 298 mostly daytime crashes in metropolitan Adelaide was that medical conditions make a sizeable contribution to the occurrence of road crashes. We found that almost half of the drivers, riders and pedestrians involved in the collisions had at least one pre-existing medical condition, and half of these individuals had two or more such conditions. We found that a medical condition was the direct causal factor in 13% of the casualty crashes investigated and accounted for 23% of all hospital admission or fatal crash outcomes. A follow-up study of all hospital admissions for road crashes in Adelaide is now going ahead to look further at this problem. The paper also describes studies looking specifically at pedestrian crashes. These include studies of the relationship between travelling speed and the risk of a fatal pedestrian crash, and studies utilising real crash data to validate headforms and test dummies used in the assessment of the safety of new vehicles in the event of a collision with a pedestrian.
PublisherBundesanstalt für Straßenwesen
Publisher CityBergisch Gladbach
Conference Name3rd Expert Symposium on Accident Research
Conference AbbreviationESAR
Conference LocationHannover, Germany
Conference Date5-6 September 2008
Page Range15-23
Page Count9
Notesavailable from CASR library on request

Baldock MRJ, Woolley JE, Ponte G, Wundersitz LN, Lindsay VL (2009). In-depth crash investigation at the Centre for Automotive Safety Research. 3rd Expert Symposium on Accident Research, (pp. 15-23). Bergisch Gladbach: Bundesanstalt für Straßenwesen.