Characteristics of vehicles driven by different driver demographics - how can safer vehicle choices be encouraged?

Monash University Accident Research Centre - Report # 301

Authors: Keall, M. D. & Newstead, S.V

Full report in .pdf format [577KB]


The focus of this study was to examine the profile of vehicles driven by different driver groups in different jurisdictions of Australasia to investigate the secondary safety implications of the vehicles driven. The 2001-2005 crash fleets of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and New Zealand were considered. NSW and Victoria had the newest fleets and NZ by far the oldest. Within each jurisdiction, the crash fleet of younger drivers was oldest, the fleet for drivers aged 26-59 newest, with the older drivers’ fleet in-between. Those age groups and jurisdictions with older vehicles also had less crashworthy vehicles on average. Female drivers generally drove newer vehicles than male drivers apart from very recent models, which tended to be proportionately more prevalent in the male driver fleet. Despite this, female driver’s vehicles had a consistently poorer crashworthiness distribution than the vehicles driven by males since females prefer smaller, lighter vehicles, which have generally poorer crashworthiness. Large cars dominated the fleets of all the Australian male driver age groups, but for females, only featured strongly in the 26-59-year-old drivers’ fleets. The market group constitution of the New Zealand crash fleets of most driver groups was dominated by Medium cars, a result of the widespread importation of medium-sized used cars mainly from Japan.
The pattern of crash-involvement was different for different driver groups. Young drivers have been shown by previous research to be involved in a much higher proportion of rollover crashes, highlighting the importance of strengthened roof structures for this group. Older drivers and female drivers in general had higher proportions of intersection crashes for which side-impact protection features and side airbags are particularly relevant. It can be argued that both younger and older drivers require the most crashworthy vehicles: older drivers because they are more liable to be injured when involved in a crash; younger drivers because they have high rates of crash involvement.

Sponsoring Organisation(s): - 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, South Australian Department of Transport Energy and Infrastructure and by grants from the Australian Government Department of Transport, Infrastructure, Regional Development and Local Government and the Road Safety Council of Western Australia