Vehicle Crashworthiness Ratings: Victoria and NSW Crashes During 1987-94

Monash University Accident Research Centre - Report #92 - 1996

Authors: S. Newstead, M. Cameron & M. Skalova

Full report in .pdf format [2.2MB]

Abstract:

Crashworthiness is the relative safety of vehicles in preventing severe injury in crashes. Crashworthiness ratings for 1982-94 model vehicles were developed based on data on crashes in Victoria and New South Wales during 1987-94. Crashworthiness was measured by a combination of injury severity (of injured drivers) and injury risk (of drivers involved in crashes). Injury severity was based on 63,000 drivers injured in crashes in the two States. Injury risk was based on 289,000 drivers involved in crashes in New South Wales where a vehicle was towed away. The ratings were adjusted for the driver sex and age, the speed limit at the crash location, and the number of vehicles involved, factors which were found to be strongly related to injury risk and/or severity. They estimate the risk of a driver being killed or admitted to hospital when involved in a tow-away crash, to a degree of accuracy represented by the confidence limits of the rating in each case. The estimates and their associated confidence limits were sufficiently sensitive that they were able to identify 36 models of passenger cars, four-wheel drive vehicles, passenger vans and light commercial vehicles which have superior or inferior crashworthiness characteristics compared with the average vehicle. However the results are based on a number of assumptions and warrant a number of qualifications which should be noted.

Executive Summary

Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) commenced a project to develop crashworthiness ratings (the relative safety of vehicles in preventing severe injury in crashes) and produced rating scores for 1982-90 model vehicles which were published and widely distributed during 1992. An updated set of crashworthiness ratings for 1982-92 model vehicles was produced and published by MUARC during 1994.

This report describes the development of further updated crashworthiness ratings for 1982-94 model vehicles based on crash data from Victoria and New South Wales. Crashworthiness was measured by a combination of injury severity (of injured drivers) and injury risk (of drivers involved in crashes). Injury severity was based on 63,000 drivers injured in crashes in the two States during 1987-94. Injury risk was based on 289,000 drivers involved in crashes in New South Wales where a vehicle was towed away.

The crashworthiness ratings were adjusted for the driver sex and age, the speed limit at the crash location, and the number of vehicles involved, factors which were found to be strongly related to injury risk and/or severity. These adjustments were made with the aim of measuring the effects of vehicle factors alone, uncontaminated by other factors available in the data which affected crash severity and injury susceptibility.

The rating scores estimate the risk of a driver being killed or admitted to hospital when involved in a tow-away crash, to a degree of accuracy represented by the confidence limits of the rating in each case. The estimates and their associated confidence limits were sufficiently sensitive that they were able to identify 36 models of passenger cars, four-wheel drive vehicles, passenger vans and light commercial vehicles which have superior or inferior crashworthiness characteristics compared with the average vehicle.

It is concluded that the additional crash data has enabled the crashworthiness ratings to be obtained for a larger range of car models than previously. The new data set has been able to produce more up-to-date and reliable estimates of the crashworthiness of individual car models than those published previously. However the results and conclusions are based on a number of assumptions and warrant a number of qualifications which should be noted.

Sponsoring Organisation: Baseline Research Program - Department of Justice, Transport Accident Commission, Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) Ltd, VicRoads