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Type: Report
Title: The relative contribution of system failures and extreme behaviour in South Australian fatal crashes, 2008-2009
Author: Wundersitz, L.
Baldock, M.
Raftery, S.
Publisher: Centre for Automotive Safety Research
Issue Date: 2015
ISSN: 1449-2237
Assignee: Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (SA)
Statement of
LN Wundersitz, MRJ Baldock, SJ Raftery
Abstract: Within the road system, there are compliant road users who may make an error that leads to a crash, resulting in a ‘system failure’, and there are also road users who deliberately take risks and display dangerous or ‘extreme’ behaviours that lead to a crash. Crashes resulting from system failures can be addressed through improvements to road system design more readily than crashes resulting from extreme behaviours. The classification of crash causation in terms of system failures or extreme behaviour is important for determining the extent to which a Safe System approach (i.e. improvements to road system design to serve compliant road users) is capable of reducing the number of crashes. This study examined the relative contribution of system failures and extreme behaviour in South Australian crashes as identified from information in Coroner’s investigation files (2008-2009) for 189 fatal crashes. The results were compared with data from CASR’s in-depth crash investigations for 272 nonfatal metropolitan injury crashes and 181 non-fatal rural crashes. The analysis found that that very few non-fatal crashes (3% metropolitan, 9% rural) involved extreme behaviour by road users and, even in fatal crashes, the majority (54%) were the result of system failures. Fatal crashes resulting from system failures were more likely than those resulting from extreme behaviour to occur during the day, on weekdays, in rural areas and on roads with high speed limits. Findings from the current study suggest that improvements to the road transport system (i.e. forgiving road infrastructure, appropriate speed limits, and safe vehicle design) can be expected to be much more effective in reducing crashes than concentrating on preventing extreme behaviours. Such a strategy could reduce the incidence and severity of a large proportion of crashes in South Australia.
Keywords: Fatal crash, Accident investigation, Road user behaviour; Coroner; Safe system
Rights: © The University of Adelaide 2015
RMID: 0030047596
Appears in Collections:Centre for Automotive Safety Research reports

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