Research and Evaluation

Research is vital to improve road safety outcomes now and in the future. In accordance with the state government’s road safety strategy Towards Zero 2008-2020, our research capability and capacity is pertinent to our ability to improve our understanding of our local road safety problems and identify fit for purpose solutions better.
 
The Curtin- Monash Accident Research Centre (C-MARC) is a WA-based  multidisciplinary road safety research centre which was established by the Western Australian State Government in 2008. The Centre is located at Curtin University and represents a significant partnership between the Road Safety Commission, Curtin University and Monash University’s Accident Research Centre (MUARC).

C-MARC’s directive is to:

  • Contribute scientific evidence to the community on road safety;
  • Translate scientific evidence into policy and practice;
  • Ensure best practice is identified for successful action through the latest findings and practices from WA, from Australia and from around the world;
  • Develop research training courses in road safety and injury;
  • Respond to the needs of their key road safety injury stakeholders in the State; and
  • Develop strong capacity to respond effectively to road safety challenges.

C-MARC is funded through the Road Trauma Trust Account.

Translating research into practice

The Road Safety Commission adopts an evidence based approach to policy development. This includes utilising contemporary research to inform policy design and evaluate policy effectiveness in meeting intended road safety outcomes.
 
Research helps us to understand our local road safety problems;  what works, strategies and initiatives to improve and our degree of responsiveness to emerging road safety issues.
 
Our research program is informed by the Road Safety Research Review Committee (RSRRC) Chaired by the Commission’s Assistant Director Strategy and Policy.
 
The RSRRC is a sub-committee to the Road Safety Council with representation from across government and community.
 

Road Safety Research Forum

In 2018, the Commission launched its inaugural Road Safety Research Forum to showcase important road safety research in Western Australia.

WA Road Safety Research Forum
We are aiming to host these forums annually and continue to showcase our research to the community.
 
Our Research Forum illustrates how the Road Trauma Trust Account is invested back into the community to continue to target road safety across WA.

The following abstracts provide visibility into contemporary research to date, which was specifically discussed at the inaugural Road Safety Research Forum on 4 May 2018.
 
The Commission is in the process of refining the remaining research it has commissioned since 2014, with further abstracts to be uploaded over the coming months.
 
Thank you for your interest in road safety research and specifically our research program. If you would like any further information on our Research Program please email info@rsc.wa.gov.au.

Video presentations from the Research forum

Research Forum Pt 1
Research Forum Pt 2
Research Forum Pt 3

Research forum biographies

Speakers bios (PDF, 269 KB) 

 

Evaluation of Run off Road Program

An evaluation of the effectiveness and cost- effectiveness of a run-off-road crash program in Western Australia.
 
Single vehicle loss-of-control run-off-road crashes are a significant issue in regional and remote Western Australia, where they accounted for almost 60% of all road deaths and serious injuries from 2008 to 2012.
 
Nearly 1000 kilometres of rural WA roads were treated under the rural Run-off-road Crash Program between 2012 and 2015, which utilised the treatments “shoulder widening and/or sealing” and “audible edgelines”.  The preliminary evaluation performed by C-MARC at the end of 2016 found the WA program to reduce run-off-road crashes (all severities) by 35.5% and run-off-road killed or serious injury (KSI) crashes by 25.5%.
 
A recent update of the study which considered comparison sites, updated data on traffic volume, and included longer follow-up period for observing crashes, has again found statistically significant reductions of 43.7% in run-off-road crashes and 36.6% in run-off-road KSI crashes.
 
The Run-off-road Crash Program also performed well in economic terms.  In relation to the net economic worth of the program, the benefit-cost ratio across the treated sites were estimated to be 2.1, indicating cost savings to the community of $2.10 for each $1 invested.

Run off roads research and program 

Intersection Safety Performance

Because cars and other road users meet at intersections, they have higher crash risk than other parts of the road network. It is important to identify high risk intersections so that they can be prioritised for infrastructure improvement.
 
This report considers metropolitan intersection crashes resulting in fatalities and serious injuries (KSI), and has recommendations about how and where to allocate resources to achieve the greatest improvement to road safety across the road network.  These findings have been provided to key stakeholders for consideration.
This research has been undertaken as a series of three projects. 
The first report identified risk factors for significant increased risk of a killed or serious injury intersection crash were:
 
  • temporal factors (crashes occurring at weekends and at night-time),
  • occurrence at non-level intersections, and
  • three-way, or four or more-way intersections (compared to roundabouts).

The second tranche of research identified and ranked 60 high risk intersections in the Perth metropolitan area to determine the intersections that required the most urgent attention.

The final report identified appropriate countermeasures for treatment of the high risk intersections and allocated a cost and estimated reduction in the KSI metric using the Main Roads Crash Reduction Matrix.  The suggested treatments range from grade separation or widening of bridges to modifying signals, adding lanes, installing roundabouts and extending turn pockets.

Metropolitan intersections research and program (PDF, 5 MB) 

Fatigue Research

In 2016, 196 people died on WA roads. Of these fatalities, 27 (14%) were involved in fatigue-related crashes. Internationally about 20% of fatal crashes are estimated to be related to fatigue.

Sleep loss and drowsy driving are common in the community. However, research identifies strategies to support preventing these deaths, with greater education and awareness.

Technologies that detect driver drowsiness are available and in use for many commercial drivers. For all drivers we need strategies to improve behaviour in relation to fatigue management and healthy sleep to reduce fatigue-related crashes.

Sleep loss and drowsy driving are common in the community. However, research identifies strategies to support preventing these deaths, with greater education and awareness.

Technologies that detect driver drowsiness are available and in use for many commercial drivers. For all drivers we need strategies to improve behaviour in relation to fatigue management and healthy sleep to reduce fatigue-related crashes.

Illicit Drugs and Driving

The study included a review of Police roadside tests for illicit drugs from 2008 to 2012.
 
The results of the blood test of those killed in crashes found that testing positively for illicit drugs was higher for: men;
  • those aged under 40 years;
  • those driving without a valid licence;
  • those testing positive to alcohol in the range 0.05%-0.149%; and
  • those using Benzodiazepines.
 
The study also looked at the presence of illicit drugs in those killed on Western Australian roads between 2000 and 2012.  The proportion of killed drivers or riders testing positively for illicit drugs has remained relatively constant at approximately 23%.  

Illicit drugs and driving: An investigation of fatalities and traffic offences (PDF, 358 KB)

The effect of alcohol availability on road crashes

This study examined the effects of distance from alcohol outlets to alcohol- and non-alcohol-related road crashes across the Perth metropolitan area. Data on crashes in Perth between 2005 and 2015 was mapped in comparison with the locations of alcohol outlets. The study included 341,467 crashes that occurred between 2005 and 2015.
 
The highest number of BAC ≥ 0.05% crashes were in the southern postcodes from Fremantle and Rockingham on the coast, eastwards to Kelmscott and Armadale.
 
The highest crash incidence rates occurred in 2007 and in the CBD. Models indicated crashes with higher number of on-premise outlets and lower number of bottle shops in adjacent buffer zones were more likely to be alcohol-related crashes.

The effect of alcohol availability on road crashes (PDF, 784 KB)

How well can drivers see pedestrians to avoid collisions?

The relationship between vehicle visibility and pedestrian injury risk and the safety benefits of reversing techologies for the australiasian fleet. 

Based on experimental evidence, reversing cameras have been found to be potentially effective in reducing the rate of collisions when reversing whilst the evidence for the effectiveness of reverse parking sensors has been mixed. This study aimed to assess the relationship between pedestrian crash risk and both forward and rearwards visibility as assessed by the indices of forward and rearward visibility derived and published by the Insurance Australia Group (IAG) Research Centre. In addition, the research aimed to assess the benefits of reversing sensors and cameras on vehicles in mitigating the risk of pedestrian back-over crashes. 

The wide availability of vehicle reversing technologies in recent model vehicles provided impetus for real-world evaluation using police reported crash data. 

The study found that reversing cameras were also associated with a 30% reduction in fatal and serious injury crashes (95% CI 0.50-0.99). There was also good evidence that the safety benefit for more serious crashes was greater for cars equipped with the cameras than for SUVs or light commercial vehicles.

How well can drivers see pedestrians to avoid collisions? (PDF, 980 KB)