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Significant new facts about road deaths



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/fa Bob Brown Minister for Land Transport

27 March 1992

SIGNIFICANT NEW FACTS ABOUT ROAD DEATHS

Fatal truck and bus crashes are usually not the fault of the drivers of these vehicles, according to a report released today by the Federal Government.

Land Transport Minister Bob Brown said the new report, Fatal Crash Types,had also found that males killed in fatal road accidents were more likely to be plant operators or labourers, and that 83 out of 86 bicyclists killed in 1988 were not wearing helmets.

"The report also reveals that in 1988, 40 per cent of motorcyclists involved in fatal accidents and tested had a blood alcohol level of more than .05, compared with 24 per cent of other motor vehicle drivers killed," he said.

"Significantly, the other people involved in crashes where the motorcyclist was not at fault often failed to see the motorcycle, which is further evidence of the need for motorcycle headlights or running lights to come on

automatically whenever the engine is running."

Fatal Crash Types is the first of three reports commissioned by the Federal Office of Road Safety to analyse data and statistics compiled by FORS. These statistics are contained in the FORS "Fatality File" — a national database of road deaths (* Statistics are collated every two years - these figures refer to 1988 and 1990).

The report provides details not previously released about fatal road accidents, and gives insights into the causes of crashes and the characteristics of the road users and vehicles involved.

Mr Brown said: "The FORS Fatality File is unique because it contains not only information from the police, but also material from coroners' reports.

"Fatal Crash Types is the first report available to the public on the 1988 Fatality File and should be invaluable to everyone working in road safety or researching road deaths in Australia."

The report provides information-bn ten types of fatal road accident: pedestrian, bicycle, motorcycle, bus, articulated

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truck, single vehicle rural, single vehicle urban, multiple vehicle rural, multiple vehicle urban and crashes involving children.

The research covers more than 120 variables, including employment categories, crash responsibility and helmet wearing.

Mr Brown said that some of the more interesting results of the study were that:

. Males killed in road accidents were disproportionately likely to be labourers or plant operators

. Of all those who died, 28.6 per cent were killed instantly by the crash, 29 per cent died before the arrival of the ambulance, 10.4 per cent died with the ambulance at the scene or on the way to hospital, and 32 per cent died

in hospital

. In the case of pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities, 53 per cent and 52 per cent respectively died in hospital — largely because accidents involving these road users tended to occur in urban regions

. Truck and bus crashes were only infrequently the fault of the drivers of these vehicles: in multiple vehicle crashes, bus drivers were estimated to have been solely at fault in only 11 per cent of crashes, while for articulated truck drivers the comparable figure was 22 per cent

. Although the occupants of articulated trucks were less likely that other vehicle occupants to be killed in crashes, 96 per cent of truck occupants who were killed were not wearing a seat belt

. A surprisingly high 23 per cent of fatal crashes involving articulated vehicles occurred in low-speed (60 km per hour) urban areas

. Almost half the fatal crashes involving bicyclists were rear-end collisions, but in about half of these cases the collision resulted from the bicycle hitting the back of the motor vehicle

. Eighty-three bicyclists out of 86 involved were not wearing helmets at the time of the crash

. Nine per cent of motorcyclists involved in fatal accidents (where the rider, pillion passenger, pedestrian or car driver was killed) did not have a valid motorcycle licence

. Forty-two per cent of week-day fatal crashes involving children occurred after school,^-between 3-6 pm

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. Of the children killed while passengers in a vehicle, more were sitting in the centre rear seat than in any other position.

The Fatal Crash Types report is available in two forms: a 150-page detailed technical version and a shorter summary.

The Federal Office of Road Safety is supplying copies of the report to individuals and organisations on its mailing lists. Others can receive a free copy by writing to the Public Education Section, Federal Office of Road Safety, GPO Box 594, Canberra ACT 2601.

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Media inquiries: Brian Hill (06) 277 7440 or (018) 626 178