Safe Vehicles

This road safety cornerstone focus's on improving the safety of the vehicles in the road system by:
 
  • Promoting safety features that reduce the likelihood of a crash (and reduce the impact of the crash on vehicle occupants as well as pedestrians and cyclists).
  • Encouraging consumers and businesses to purchase safer vehicles.
  • Implementing mandatory safe vehicle procurement in Government fleets and recommending additional safety features to be considered.

Promoting Safe Vehicles to Vulnerable Drivers (2018)

The aim of this research was to investigate opportunities for the promotion of safe vehicles to the vulnerable driver groups of 17-25 year olds and drivers residing in Rural and Remote WA. The safe vehicle related knowledge, attitudes and behaviours and type of vehicles driven by these drivers were sampled using an online survey which was completed by 619 drivers.

The research found:
  • drivers were mostly responsible for the purchase of their own car and had some knowledge of safe vehicles.
  • 63% of the cars owned by 17-25 year old metropolitan drivers were rated 1-3 Stars compared with 61% for same aged rural/remote drivers and 70.5% for 26+ year old rural/remote drivers.
  • analysis of the drivers’ attitudes indicated that financial issues and not safety have the highest priority in the selection of a vehicle. Drivers consequently endorsed initiatives to provide financial incentives to purchase safe vehicles; and
  • drivers were also somewhat wary and cautious of the injury reduction claims associated with the use of safe vehicles and were not in favour of technologies that took control away from them as the driver.
 
The report provides specific information and insight into how safe vehicles are accessed by vulnerable drivers and the potential barriers/limits to this. the research also sets out a recommended approach to promoting the purchasing of safe vehicles by vulnerable groups.
 
Road Safety Benefit
The research was beneficial to Government to the extent that a framework to promote the use of safe vehicles was developed.
 
Actions to Date
This research has informed the following actions:
  • The framework will be used to inform future road safety initiatives that target safe vehicle promotion and access within the WA community, such as the Commission’s proposed Safe Vehicles Action Plan and ongoing community education coordinated by the Strategic Communications Unit.
  • The paper will also be shared with the VRUAG and the Vehicle Safety Research Group and Australasian New Car Assessment Program for their awareness.

Click to downloadPromoting Safe Vehicles to Vulnerable Drivers

Autonomous Vehicles and the Readiness of Western Australian Roads (2018)

This aim of this research is to provide an assessment of the readiness of WA roads for some forms of automated driving. Lane Departure Warning (LDW) systems in two vehicles were tested on various rural road line markings during three days of on-road trials at nine sites in WA.
The research found that:
  • LDW systems are capable of providing appropriate warnings in rural road environments where there are suitable line marking; and
  • Line markings on WA roads (where they have been well maintained) are suitable for detection by LDW systems.
 
The research recommended the trial be expanded to more remote roads in WA and the need to consider future maintenance programs for line markings as they relate to the further expansion of the automated vehicle technology along the regional and remote network.


Road Safety Benefit
The research is beneficial to Government to the extent that the findings of this study show that LDW systems are capable of providing appropriate warnings in rural road environments where there are suitable line markings. It was clear that the line markings being utilised on WA roads, where they have been well maintained to provide sufficient levels of contrast with the road surface and retro-reflectivity, comfortably meet this level of suitability.

Actions to Date:
The research has informed the following actions:
  • The research will be shared with Main Roads WA and WA Local Government Association to discuss the implications of this research for the installation and maintenance of line markings that automated vehicles can see.
  • The research will also be provided to the Austroads Connected and Automated Vehicles Program and the Department of Transport’s Connected and Automated Vehicle Advisory Committee and supporting working groups.
Click to download

Understanding the impact of autonomous vehicles on behaviour and interactions - ongoing via Australian Research Council Grant 2017

Automated vehicles have the potential to transform road safety.

But there are many unknowns associated with how drivers will interact with automated vehicles, especially at moments requiring manual resumption of vehicle control. The ultimate success of automated vehicles will depend on drivers’ trust in them and on how people choose to use and interact with them.

This aim of this research is to explore three issues critical to the successful deployment of automated vehicles:
 
  • Factors influencing driver choice of automated vehicle control.
  • Interactions between automated and manually controlled vehicles.
  • Driver detection, recognition, and reaction to automated vehicle system failures.

The; University of New South Wales and the University of Sydney were awarded an Australian Research Council Linkage Project Grant as well as support from the Commission to undertake this project.

As the research is ongoing, a status update will be uploaded when available.

Autonomous vehicles and the readiness of Western Australian roads (2016)

Technologies to support semi and fully automated driving are progressively emerging among the vehicle fleet.

The aim of this research is to document two trials planned elsewhere in Australia and proposes a trial of Lane Departure Warning Systems (LDWS) on the regional WA road network.

Road safety benefit
This research provides a background on the current uptake of automated vehicles within Australia and a fit for purpose on-road trial of LDWS in WA.

Action to date:
 
  • This research was highlighted to stakeholders and practitioners at the Research Forum in May 2018.
  • The research will also be provided to the Austroads Connected and Automated Vehicles Program and the Department of Transport’s Connected and Automated Vehicle Advisory Committee and supporting working groups.
  • This research has informed a subsequent on-road trial of LDWS in 2017/18, which is being expanded in 2018/19.

 

Modelling the road trauma effects of potential vehicle safety improvements in the Western Australian light passenger vehicle fleet (2013)

This aim of the research was to examine the effect of fleet vehicle purchasing on the overall safety profile of vehicles in Western Australia.
 
This research profiled 2006-2009 crash data and 2006-2012 registration data for West Australian passenger vehicles by fleet type: metropolitan corporate, rural corporate, government and private. It also examined crashes and occupant injuries by road user, for the 2012 registered new vehicles over 22 years as a baseline for evaluating different fleet purchasing scenarios.
 
The WA corporate and government fleet was found to have an over representation of aggressive vehicle market groups and to be growing in proportion of all registrations. The safety implications for both for the fleet drivers and the general public on transfer to private ownership were addressed by evaluating alternative vehicle purchasing scenarios.
 
The best outcome in terms of reductions in the societal cost of crashes and occupant injuries was found with the scenario which mandated 100% fitment of forward collision and autonomous emergency braking systems operating at all speeds to fleet vehicles. This scenario produced societal savings of $117 million and prevented serious and fatal injuries to over 200 road users.
 
The best outcomes that came within fleet buyer break-even costs were vehicle substitution scenarios. Purchasing of large vehicles instead of medium and large SUVs in metropolitan areas and medium SUVs instead of large SUVs in rural areas, not only was estimated to save society $17 million in crash related costs but also was estimated to be purchased for less than corporate and government fleets under current purchasing practices.

Road safety benefit
The research was beneficial to Government in that the research provides underpinning modelling to support improvements in the safety of vehicles in the fleet. This research has identified a set of priorities on which the WA government can focus to maximise the future safety of the WA vehicle fleet. Forward collision detection and mitigation technologies that operate at all speeds is the technology of those considered that offers the highest potential for reducing serious trauma and community costs in WA.

Improving two critical areas of fleet purchasing behaviour also offers the potential for significant road trauma savings in WA:
 
  • Purchase of vehicles with the highest possible crash worthiness is the first priority.
  • Reducing the aggressivity of the commercial SUV fleet through encouraging or incentivising downsizing of the SUV fleet or substitution for large cars and making good aggressivity performance a priority in the purchasing process.

Actions to date:

  • The Commission liaised with the Department of Treasury and Finance to reform fleet policies for Government in Western Australia, with a requirement for five star ratings introduced in 2015.
  • The Commission continues to liaise with the Department to progress a review of the current policy.
  • This research will inform the Commission’s Safe Vehicle Action Plan and future initiatives to support safe vehicle penetration into the WA fleet post 2020.

Vehicle Road Safety Research Group

The Vehicle Safety Research Group is a consortium of 16 government road authorities and motoring clubs from Australia and New Zealand, with representation by the Commission.

The consortium oversees a major program of research undertaken by the Monash University Accident Research Centre focused on vehicle safety monitoring and evaluation.

A primary focus of the Vehicle Safety Research Group program has been developing consumer advice on vehicle safety that rated the relative safety performance of light vehicles (Used Car Safety Ratings). The ratings system developed covers both the role of the vehicle in determining injury outcomes in the event of a crash (secondary safety) and, more recently, the contribution of vehicle design and specification to crash risk (primary safety). Secondary safety assessment covers not only how the vehicle protects its own occupants from injury in a crash (crash worthiness), but also the injury risk posed to other road users with which the vehicle collides (aggressivity).
 
Analysis has also been extended to look at average ratings by year of vehicle manufacture. This analysis clearly showed the effects of the introduction of Australia Design Rules (ADRs) – mandatory safety equipment and performance standards – in improving occupant protection performance and provided a mechanism for assessing the impacts of vehicle safety policy changes more broadly.
 
The VSRG also has a dedicated focus on research across the following themes:

  • Ratings and fleet analysis.
  • Evaluation of new technology.
  • Vulnerable road users.
  • Fleet modelling.
  • Policy development & advocacy.

A list of research publications can be accessed on their website.

Motorcycle clothing assessment program

The Commission is a partner in the national Motorcycle Protective Clothing Rating Scheme (Motocap), coordinated by Transport for New South Wales.

The aim of the research is to undertake independent testing and provide motorcyclists with information about the levels of injury protection provided by riding gear available in Australia and New Zealand.
The preliminary results of the first tranche of research – undertaken by Deakin University – will be publicised by the end of the year 2018. 

The research is ongoing.