Vehicle safety and young drivers Stages 2 and 3: Analysis of young driver crash types and vehicle choice optimisation

Monash University Accident Research Centre - Report #292 [2009]

Authors: Whelan, M., Scully, J. and Newstead, S.

Full report in .pdf format [867KB]

(See also companion report: Watson, L. M. & Newstead, S. V. (2009) Vehicle safety and young drivers, Stage 1 - Profile of young driver vehicles [pdf 2.8MB])


The overall aim of this study was to examine the implications of young driver vehicle choice on secondary safety outcomes. This was achieved by identifying patterns in vehicle choice by driver age and sex (Stage 1, see Watson & Newstead, in press), investigating the young driver crash profile (Stage 2), and developing and assessing scenarios for changing young driver vehicle choice to optimise road trauma outcomes (Stage 3). This report documents the outcomes of Stages 2 and 3.

The results of Stage 2 indicate that young drivers are over-represented in crashes occurring at night, single-vehicle crashes, crashes occurring in rural areas and crashes occurring on wet road surfaces. These crash types were more severe overall with the exception of crashes on wet roads. For Australian drivers aged 18-24 years old, crashes at night and single-vehicle crashes were more serious in comparison to drivers aged 25 or above. For New Zealand drivers, single-vehicle crashes involving young drivers were not more severe than single-vehicle crashes involving mature drivers. Vehicle profile analyses showed that the average crashworthiness of vehicles driven by young drivers remained the same across different crash types, including crashes occurring at different times of day.

Stage 3 demonstrated that it is possible to reduce the number of serious injuries and fatalities if the vehicle choices of young drivers move towards vehicles with high crashworthiness ratings. Three scenarios were assessed. Scenario 1 estimated the road trauma outcomes if all young drivers were driving the vehicle with the best crashworthiness rating (Scenario 1a) or a vehicle with a crashworthiness rating equal to the average crashworthiness rating of the ten most-crashworthy vehicles (Scenario 1b). Scenario 2 estimated the road trauma outcomes if all young drivers were driving the most-crashworthy vehicle within the same year of manufacture as the vehicle they crashed (Scenario 2a) or if all young drivers were driving the most-crashworthy vehicle within the same year of manufacture and vehicle market group as their crashed vehicle (Scenario 2b). Scenario 3 estimated road trauma outcomes if all young drivers' vehicles were fitted with ESC. Scenario 1a was the most effective in terms of reducing serious injuries and fatalities among young drivers. Several recommendations are made regarding real-world applications.

Sponsoring Organisations - This project was funded as contract research by the following organisations:
Road Traffic Authority of NSW, Royal Automobile Club of Victoria Ltd, NRMA Motoring and Services, VicRoads, Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia Ltd, Transport Accident Commission, New Zealand Transport Agency, the New Zealand Automobile Association, Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, Royal Automobile Club of Queensland, Royal Automobile Association of South Australia and by grants from the Australian Government Department of Transport, Infrastructure, Regional Development and Local Government and the Road Safety Council of Western Australia