home   /   centre for automotive safety research   /   Publications   /   List   /   Details

Publication Details

TitleTravel speed and the risk of serious injury in vehicle crashes
AuthorsDoecke SD, Dutschke JK, Baldock MRJ, Kloeden CN
TypeJournal Article

- 1,618 light vehicle impacts in real world crashes analysed by impact type.

- Travel speed taken from Event Data Recorders for high levels of accuracy.

- Risk curves produced for risk of serious injury (MAIS3+F) vs travel speed.

- Head on impacts reached 1% risk of serious injury at just 17 km/h.

- The results can be used to set speed limits according to risk.


While there is a large quantity of prior research on speed and road safety, no previous studies have quantified the absolute risk of serious injury in a crash relative to travel speed. This study aimed to produce risk curves that relate travel speed to the risk of serious injury in light vehicle impacts in order to contribute to the process of selecting acceptable travel speeds. Serious injury was defined in this study as any injury having a maximum abbreviated injury scale (MAIS) of three or greater, or a fatal injury (MAIS3+F). In the context of a crash, travel speed is defined as the vehicle's speed before the driver reacts to the crash situation. Travel speed was determined by selecting the highest pre-impact speed recorded by an Event Data Recorder (EDR) in the seconds before the crash. A total of 1,618 light vehicle impacts were analysed using logistic regression. Individual risk curves were produced for front, head on, side, rear and single vehicle impacts. The analysis found significant positive relationships between the risk of serious injury and travel speed for all of these impact types. The travel speeds at which the risk of serious injury reached one per cent were 63 km/h across all impacts, 17 km/h for head on impacts, 48 km/h for single vehicle impacts, 58 km/h for side impacts, 81 km/h for front impacts and 96 km/h for rear impacts. These results have implications for the setting of speed limits and other measures that influence the speed at which vehicles travel.

Journal TitleAccident Analysis and Prevention
Journal Volume (Issue)161 (2021)
Page Range106359

Doecke SD, Dutschke JK, Baldock MRJ, Kloeden CN (2021). Travel speed and the risk of serious injury in vehicle crashes. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 161 (2021), 106359.