Impact of road trauma and measures to improve outcomes

Cover Image of Impact of road trauma and measures to improve outcomes report

Publication Type:
Research Report 140

Publication Subject(s):

Release Date:
December 2014

Report 140 presents the results of a BITRE review of the impacts of road trauma. This review evaluated different road safety approaches, both internationally and domestically, and provided a timely stock take of ways that road safety experts believe deaths and serious injuries on our roads can be reduced.

Internationally, the annual number of road deaths fell nearly 40 per cent between 2000 and 2012. However, there has been limited success in saving lives among vulnerable road users, and the share of fatalities among elderly road users is slowly increasing in many countries.

In 2008, International Transport Forum and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development published a research report Towards Zero: ambitious road safety targets and the Safe System approach, which was the first international effort in defining and promoting the adoption by all countries of a Safe System approach.

Australia was amongst the first to adopt a Safe System approach, which underpins the National Road Safety Strategy 2011–2020 (NRSS).

In Australia significant progress has been made towards the NRSS target of a 30 per cent reduction in casualties. While vehicle occupant deaths have trended down, the analysis confirms the relatively high risk for motorcyclists, pedal cyclists, older drivers and remote communities. This, combined with population increases, makes the search for new ways to further reduce road trauma even more challenging.

BITRE has focused on four priorities identified by road safety experts: infrastructure, intersections, distraction from mobile phones, and autonomous emergency braking. The report found:

  • Roadside barriers, median barriers and rumble strips reduce road trauma. To maximise road safety benefits they need to be implemented taking account of road conditions.
  • Lower speed limits can be a valuable option to help achieve improved road safety outcomes where low traffic volumes mean upgrades are not currently economically justified.
  • Intersection treatments can be very effective, with roundabouts particularly effective—reducing casualty crashes by over 70 per cent.
  • There is value in a comprehensive mobile phone strategy.
  • Autonomous emergency braking will save lives as it is introduced to the vehicle fleet.

The Bureau is grateful for the help of road safety experts who participated in both the survey and workshop to identify new measures with the most potential to further reduce road trauma.

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