Safe Road Use

As part of the Safe System, the Safe Road Use cornerstone involves influencing road user behaviour by:
  • Advising, educating and encouraging road users to comply with road rules.
  • Promoting the philosophy of shared responsibility.
  • Encouraging road users to drive unimpaired and alert, and according to the prevailing conditions.
  • Managing the gradual introduction of novices into the system and understanding their specific needs.
  • Taking action against those who break the rules.

A longitudinal study examining driving performance and self-regulation practice in drivers with mild dementia ongoing via Australian Research Council Linkage Project Grant

Despite the high prevalence of dementia in older drivers, a substantial gap remains in the evidence regarding the natural progression of the disease and its impact on driving performance and driver self-regulation practices.

The aim of this research was to assess longitudinal changes in the driving performance, driving self-regulation, mobility and satisfaction with mobility for older drivers with mild dementia, compared to that of older drivers without dementia.

A three-year prospective cohort study will be undertaken and will be made up of three phases:
  • Phase 1 - will be undertaken to examine the natural driving patterns and self-regulation practices of older drivers with mild dementia, compared to older drivers without dementia at baseline and one year after the initial assessment.
  • Phase 2 - of the study will utilise a state-of-the-art driving simulator to assess the driving performance of the 350 participants recruited in Phase One at baseline and one year after the initial assessment.
  • Phase 3 - involves undertaking a Delphi Study to establish consensus on evidence-based recommendations arising from Phase One and Two to manage the driving safety for older drivers with dementia. The Delphi Study will comprise of 25 experts representing key stakeholder groups who will be asked questions regarding the relevance of the study’s results, the feasibility of the potential recommendations and how to implement them.

The Commission is supporting CMARC in this Australian Research Council (ARC) project.

The research is ongoing.

The effect of alcohol availability on road crashes at varying distances from the CBD in Perth, Australian from 2005 to 2015 (2016)

Impaired driving is a focus area for the Council.

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 Blood Alcohol Content (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 Central Business District (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.

Road safety benefit
This review offers some background on the relationship between alcohol-related crashes and alcohol outlets, and made recommendations on:

  • The location of roadside breath testing.
  • Coordination with the Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor regarding the granting of liquor licences.

Action to date:

  • This report has been shared with the Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor and the WA Police Force.
  • This report was highlighted to stakeholders and practitioners at the Research Forum in May 2018.
  • The Commission continues to promote drink driving messages and advocate about the dangers of drink driving via its community education activities (i.e Campaigns).

In depth analysis of pedestrian serious injury crash (2016)

The aim of this research was to summarise the results of the interviews with eight pedestrians involved in serious injury crashes, with the intention of describing their experiences.

The research focuses on their experiences of the crashes and found:
  • Three participants had consumed alcohol to a level which put them at risk of short-term harm, while two had taken prescription drugs which may have affected their motor ability and alertness.
  • Two pedestrians may have been affected by distraction. More than half of the pedestrians considered themselves to be either fully or partially at fault in the crash.

The report also provides an extensive and useful literature review on crashes involving pedestrians.

The research recommended:

  • Prevention campaigns about awareness of hazards including alcohol and distraction - for drivers and pedestrians.
  • Clothing to enhance the visibility of pedestrians.
  • Engineering measures such as segregation of pedestrians from traffic, reducing speeds and increasing lighting.

Road safety benefit
The research was beneficial to the extent that the study highlights the preventable nature of some factors associated with pedestrian crashes. Road safety messages emphasise the role of substances and distraction for drivers; a similar message needs to be delivered to pedestrians.

Actions to date
This research has informed the following actions:

  • Report noted, and further work on pedestrians crossing intersections is being undertaken in the 2018-19 program of research.
  • This research will be shared with the Vulnerable Road Users Advisory Group.  Pedestrian safety is part of the Commission’s priority area of safer vulnerable road users.

The application of a proxy measure to estimate the incidence of driver fatigue (2016)

The aim of the research was to examine the prevalence and characteristics of illicit drug related driving in Western Australia through analising records of drivers and riders fatally injured in the period 2000-2012 and drivers and riders charged with a Section 64AC offence (illicit substance in oral fluid), 2008-2012.

The aim was to give a snap shot on the enforcement of illicit drug driving.

The research found that:
  • Approximately 23% of fatally injured drivers/riders tested positive to one or more illicit substances with the annual rate of detection unchanged for the full study period, with some preliminary evidence of a decline from 2008. The odds of testing positive were significantly higher for: males; those aged under 40 years; those driving without a valid licence; those testing positive to alcohol in the range 0.05gm%-0.149gm%, and those using benzodiazepines with and without opioids.
  • Around 4% of drivers and riders undertaking a roadside oral fluid test 2008-2012 were charged with a Section 64AC offence. The annual offence rate significantly increased over the period. Offending was highest for: males, younger age drivers/riders, and in the metropolitan area and select metropolitan police districts.

Road safety benefit
This research was beneficial to Government to the extent that it provided an up-to-date overview of the enforcement of illicit drugs and driving, including recommendations for:

  • Data sharing.
  • Changes to the roadside oral fluid testing program.
  • Penalties.

Action to date
This research has informed the following actions:

  • Further research in this area was undertaken in 2017, informing Government of changes to date.
  • Changes to illicit drug driving legislation arising from this work and the 2017 report are being developed.

Illicit drugs and driving - an investigation of fatalities and traffic offences in WA (2014)

This was a three-year update (2013-2015) of Western Australian fatality and traffic offence data for the involvement of illicit drugs in driving, with the intention of detecting changes in the enforcement of illicit drugs in driving. 

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 0.08%-0.149%.
  • Those using Benzodiazepines.
  • Those crashing at night-time.

The proportion of killed drivers or riders testing positively for illicit drugs has remained relatively constant at approximately 23%, but there is evidence to suggest that the annual incidence rate has declined by an average of 1 fatality per 1,000,000 licensed drivers per annum since the introduction of roadside testing. 

Significant increases in offences in regional Western Australia were recorded, in line with the expansion of testing outside of metropolitan Perth. 

The information from roadside testing also showed that the proportion of repeat offenders increased over time, with those most likely to reoffend including: 

  • Women.
  • Drivers or riders aged under 40.
  • Those committing their first offence in regional areas.

Road safety benefit
This report has provided Government with an up-to-date overview of the enforcement of illicit drugs and driving, including recommendations for:

  • Coordination between Police and the ChemCentre in sharing a common, unique identifier for traffic related deaths to facilitate data linkage.
  • Coordination with MRWA to ensure information on illicit substance is recorded in crash data.
  • Further research.

Action to date
Not yet progressed.
This report was highlighted to stakeholders and practitioners at the Research Forum in May 2018.

A roadside survey of the blood alcohol concentration levels of night time drivers in the Perth metropolitan area (2014)

The aim of this research was to investigate changes in driver blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels within the Perth metropolitan area over time through a replication of, and comparison with, two previous road side surveys conducted during 1999 and in 2000.

Data was collected at roadside police Random Breath Testing (RBT) sites during April to May 2012. A total of 8,435 tests were conducted over a six week period on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Around 7% of drivers tested returned a positive BAC, and 1.4% of these had BACs over the legal limit. This represents a significant reduction in the number of drivers detected with an illegal BAC compared to both of the two previous survey findings of 2.1% of drivers in 2000 and 1.9% in 1999.

Amongst the drivers with illegal BACs there was a smaller proportion of drivers detected (0.7%) in the current survey within the ≥0.05-0.079 g/100ml range compared to the two previous surveys (1.0% & 1.1%).

Road safety benefit
The research was beneficial to the extent that it provided Government with recommendations that include:

  • Regular roadside breath testing enforcement schedules should be extended into the early hours of the morning to reflect the evolving changes in socialisation and alcohol consumption patterns.
  • Removing back calculations for blood alcohol concentrations.

Actions to date
This research has informed the following actions:

  • This research was shared with Police to allow for enhanced enforcement.
  • The 2018/19 budget for Police includes $10,226,000 of Road Trauma Trust Account (RTTA) funding for increased impaired (by alcohol and drug) driving detection.
  • A commitment has been made to remove back calculations of blood alcohol concentration in Western Australia.

Review of young driver risk taking and its association with other risk taking behaviours (2013)

This aim of this research was to document the relationship between risky driving behaviours and other health risk behaviours among youth and young adults, locally and elsewhere.

Literature reviews were undertaken of the development of risk taking; young driver behaviour; substance use including alcohol, smoking and illicit drugs; unsafe sex, and self-harm and suicide to identify and compare common risk factors for local youth and those elsewhere.

The research found that across all locations – Western Australia and elsewhere - there was consistent and good evidence of an increased risk of crash involvement for the following young drivers:
  • Males, relative to females.
  • Those in their earliest months of licensure (e.g. less than 12 months), relative to more experienced young drivers.
  • Those with a history of drink driving offences, particularly those of legal drinking age and older; e.g., 18-25 years in Australia, older than 21 years in the USA because of the higher legal drinking age.
  • Those who speed and particularly those who engage in high level speeding.

Relative to the above, there is less developed, less consistent evidence of an increased risk of crash involvement for the following young drivers in Western Australia and elsewhere:

  • High sensation seeking individuals, relative to those categorised as moderate or low on the measure.
  • Those who use mobile phones or text whilst driving.
  • Those who drive without a valid licence or have at some stage driven without one.

Road Safety Benefit
This research was beneficial to the extent that it highlights the increased risk of road trauma for learner and novice drivers.

Countermeasures that can be adopted from other risk taking areas and applied to young driver risk taking were also reviewed, and the following recommendations made:

  • Strengthen the existing Western Australian Graduated Driver Training and Licensing program through the implementation of additional initiatives such as increasing the required number of Phase Two hours of supervised driving for learner drivers and restricting Provisional drivers from using mobile telephones – hands-free and handheld – whilst driving.
  • Support resilience based education and training programs for pre-learner and novice drivers such as Keys for Life.
  • Support initiatives that engage the parents and peers of learner and novice drivers to support safe young driver behaviours.
  • Development of gender specific mass media campaigns to address problem driving by young males.
  • Promotion of a harmonised national ‘best practice’ graduated driver training and licensing program.

Actions to Date
This research has informed the following actions:

  • The Keys for Life program is being evaluated as part of the 2018-19 program of research, as are programs designed to support parents of learner drivers.