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Road traffic injury

Road traffic injury is the most common cause of unintentional injury in NSW for all ages between 1 and 45 years. The Centre has a very active programme of research on road traffic injury risk management. Currently, the particular focus is on the issues of driver fatigue, heavy vehicle safety and young driver safety.

1. Fatigue in the light trucking sector

Centre Investigators
Ann Williamson, Rena Friswell

Summary
Although there is a substantial body of research investigating driver fatigue as an occupational safety issue for long distance heavy vehicle drivers, virtually no information is available about fatigue experiences of light truck and short haul drivers. Because light commercial vehicles comprise about 15% of the motorised fleet in NSW and because driver fatigue is thought to be involved in a similar proportion of light truck and heavy vehicle crashes, empirical data on the extent and causes of fatigue among light truck drivers is sorely needed. The aims of this project were to gather exploratory self-report data on work practices, fatigue and other occupational health and safety hazards confronting light truck and van drivers in NSW and to validate these exploratory findings in the workplace. In Phase One, the project which was carried out in 2005, light truck and van drivers and representatives of companies engaged in light transport across NSW were surveyed. Results of the surveys suggest that driver fatigue is indeed a safety issue in the light and short haul transport sector and that workplace follow-up studies are warranted.

2. Risk perceptions, attitudes and behaviours regarding driver fatigue in NSW youth: The development of an evidence-based driver fatigue educational intervention strategy

Centre Investigators
Julie Hatfield, Susanne Murphy

Collaborators
Nadine Kasparian (Prince of Wales Hospital and Westmead Institute for Cancer Research), RF Soames Job (Roads and Traffic Authority)

Summary
Driver fatigue is a major contributor to road trauma and young drivers are over-represented in fatigue-related crashes. Nonetheless the evidence-base for targeted intervention is lacking. the aims of this project were to collect information from young drivers regarding their beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours in relation to driving whilst fatigued; design anti-fatigued messages specially targeting young drivers; and evaluate these anti-fatigue messages in terms of beliefs, attitudes, and intended behaviour. In 2005, we completed th field survey data collection, and submitted draft an final reports. The pamphlet that was developed during this research program is an important outcome of this work.

3. Time of day, time awake and alcohol: The effects on fatigue and performance

Centre Investigator
Ann Williamson

Summary
Previous studies have shown that around 18 hours without sleep produces performance deficits equivalent to a blood alcohol at the legal limit for driving (0.05% blood alcohol content). All these studies, however, were confounded time awake and time of day so that the sleep deprivation effects occurred in the midnight to 6am period which coincides with the lowest point in the body clock when performance capacity is low anyway. This project will attempt to disentangle the effects of time of day and time awake and validate these effects using doses of alcohol, up to twice the legal limit for driving.

 4. Data matching project of work related driver fatigue

Centre Investigators
Ann Williamson, Soufiane Boufous

Summary
The aim of this project was to examine the characteristics of work-related traffic crashes involving drivers in New South Wales (NSW), Australia and to investigate fatigue involvement in these types of crashes. Probabilistic data record linkage was used to merge police crash records and workers compensation data for the period 1998-2002. The findings indicated that fatigue involved crashes were more likely to result in fatality and incur higher cost than crashes not involving fatigue, especially if the crash occured on country roads. The study shows no significant difference in the proportion of fatigue-related cases between on-duty and commuting crashes and highlighted the need to further investigate the factors associated with fatigue in commuters. This project demonstrated the value of record linkage techniques in addressing some of the limitations of work-related data systems and in providding a more complete picture of the circumstances of occupational traffic crashes.

5. New South Wales Young Drivers’ Cohort Study

Centre Investigator
Ann Williamson

Collaborators
Robyn Norton, Mark Stevenson, Mark Woodward (The George Institute for International Health), Maurice Eisenbruch (School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW), Don Carseldine (Roads and Traffic Authority). This project is led by the George Institute for International Health.

Summary
Road safety statistics show that young drivers are over-representaed in serious crashes. This collaborative study, being led by the George Institute aims to determine the specific risk factors for serious injury and death outcomes in young drivers. This is a prospective cohort study of young drivers aged 17 to 24, involving mail outs of invitations to complete a study questionnaire on-line or via a mailed questionnaire. The baseline data collection involved a questionnaire covering driver training, risk percpetion, driver behviour, sensation seeking behaviour and mental health. Participants gave consent for prospective data linkage to their licensing, crash and injury data held routinely collected databases. Just over 20,000 individuals completed the baseline questionnaire. A one-year follow-up questionnaire was sent out to arund one quarter of the baseline study sample. The study should assist in obtaining a better understanding of the risk factors for young driver crashes and should lead to better and more targeted interventions to reduce young driver crash risk.

6. Psychostimulant use in long distance road transport

Centre Investigator
Ann Williamson

Summary
Divergent claims about the extent of psychostimulant use among long distance heavy vehicle drivers have appeared in the scientific literature and popular press. The aims of this project were to survey long distance heavy vehicle drivers directly about their experiences of drug use and to identify characteristics of drivers' work that are associated with drug use. Anonymous surveys were distributed to drivers at truck tops on major highways in NSW in 2005. The results indicate that work practices known to engender fatigue, including pay systems, predict drug taking among drivers. The results have clear implications for policy and practice which aim to reduce occupational drug use and the health and safety risks it poses for drivers and other road users.

7. Risk taking attitudes of young NSW drivers

Centre Investigators
Julie Hatfield, Ralston Fernandes

Collaborators
Soames Job (Roads and Traffic Authority)

Summary
Risky driving is a major contributor to road trauma, particularly for young drivers, who are over represented in crash statistics. Different risky driving behaviours have been explained in terms of a range factors that influence health-relevant behaviours, without any attempt to identify the profile of factors that are relevant to specific risky driving behaviours. The aims of this project were to identify factors which are relevant to speeding, drink driving, driving while fatigued and non-use of restraint amongst young drivers; and to validate self-reported attitudes against the Implicit Attitudes computer Task.

8. The development of messages and experiences to reduce road-related illusory invulnerability and risk driving, for school aged children and young drivers

Centre Investigator
Julie Hatfield

Collaborators
Soames Job (Roads and Traffic Authority), Beryl Hesketh (University of Sydney), Wendy Joung (University of Sydney)

Summary
The over representaiton of young people in road crash statistics is likely to owe partly to misperception of risk and risky driving. This project aimed to develop and evaluate materials to improve risk perception, risky driving, and road-trauma involvement amongs young people. In 2005, we completed data collection in a learner driver sample. The pamphlet that was developed during this research program is an important outcome of this work.

9. Implicit attitudes and simulated driving behaviour

Centre Investigators
Julie Hatfield, Ralston Fernandes

Collaborator
Gavin Faunce (University of Sydney)

Summary
Speeding is a substantial contributor toward road trauma, and yet research regarding attitudes which influences that may be subject to social desirability bias. The aims of this study were to assess implicit attitudes towards speeding (employing the computer-based Implicit Association Test) and their relationship to self-reported attitudes, self-reported behaviour, and simulated driving behaviour. In addition, the aim is to develop an intervention to improve speeding-related attitudes (both implicit and explicit) and simulated behaviour.

10. Evaluation of profile line markings as a road safety countermeasure: Analysis of crash statistics and on-road safety of driver behaviour and attitudes

Centre Investigators
Julie Hatfield, Susanne Murphy

Collaborator
Soames Job (Roads and Traffic Authority)

Summary
Profile-Line-Marking (PLM) aims to reduce fatigue-related crashes by alerting drivers when they begin veering off the road. Substantial streches are laid annually Australia-wide, although evaluation of PLM has bee unsophisticated or flawed. The aims of this proejct are to improve understanding of PLM impacts by investigating beliefs/attitudes regarding PLM (e.g. "PLM damages cars"); whether road-edge PLM increases head-on crashes; the efficacy of PLM with more widely spaced "ribs" with and withouth separate raised pavement markers; and underlying mechanisms (e.g. reducing fatigue, increasing visibility during night/wet) in order to improve the efficacy and efficiency of PLM use.

11.The effects of in-vehicle audiovisual display units on simulated driving

Centre Investigators
Julie Hatfield, Timothy Chamberlain

Summary
Installation of in-car audiovisual displays is increasing, yet there is no evidence-base for appropriate regulation. We investigated whether drivers attend to audiovisual displays in other cars, and the associated driving impairments. 28 participants completed 3 drivers on a simulator while visual materials were presented on a display positioned as though in a neighbouring vehicle. A different instruction condition operated for each drive: ignore visual materials, attend, and no instruction. participants also completed one drive without visual material (control). Drivers evidenced impairment in the attend condition relative to the control condition. For example, they decelerated more slowly when confronted by pedestrian, and kept a lane position on a curvy road that was more variable and futher to the left of centre. In a survey, 96% of participants reported that their simulator driving was at least "a little" impaired by the visual materials. 31% of participants reported having seen an entertainment display in another vehicle on the road, with 80% of these reporting that they had paid at least "a little" attention to the last sighted display. These findings suggest that audiovisual displays that are visible from another vehicle are likely to distract drivers and impair their driving performance.

12.Effectiveness and appropriateness of child restraints

Centre Investigators
Wei Du, Julie Hatfield, Caroline Finch

Collaborators
Lynne Bilston (Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute)

Summary
Significant numbers of children in Australia are killed and injured each year as occupants of motor vehicles. There is a need to define the effectiveness of different forms of Australian restraint for children considering the impact of no-use and misuse. The aims of this project are to develop a population-level profile of road trauma in child occupants in NSW; characterise the types of restraints curerntly used in NSW; characterise and quantify restraint misuse; determine the size/weight deficiencies of existing dedicated child restraint and adult belt systems for Australian children; assess the influence deficiencies identified in crash protection; estimate the costs of injuries in children and the cost-benefit associated with correct restraint use. Development of the population-based profile of child road trauma has commenced, via analysis of the hospital separations database. Data collection has been completed for a telephone survey of restraint usage for children aged under 16, and data analysis is ongoing. A study to characterise the geometry of seatbelt and child restraints on the market in Australia has commenced. Planning for the third study, which involves an in-depth study of child restraint misuse, is in its final stage.

13.The role of risk propensity in the risky driving of older and younger drivers

Centre Investigators
Julie Hatfield, Ralston Fernandes

Summary
Risky driving is a major contributor to road trauma, particularly for young drivers, who are over-represented in crash statistics. Investigation of limited experience and risk-perception skills as crash contributors has lacked appropriate consideration of risk-propensity (willingness/desire to take risks). The aims of this project are to investigate interrelationships between aspects of risk-propensity (measured using recently-developed questionnaires), age, experience, risk-perception, and risky driving, in order to inform improved road safety countermeasures.

14.A review regarding the effects of advertising instalments on road safety

Centre Investigator
Julie Hatfield

Summary
Advertising instalments (e.g. advertising on stands, billboards, bus stands, buses, taxis, and other vehicles) may negatively impact road safety in several ways, primarily through obstruction of the driver's view of driving-relevant stimuli; visual clutter and reduced conspicuity of driving-relevant signs; and driver distractions. The aims of this project are to review the literature relevant to this issue and to provide the Roads and Traffic Authority with a report and recommendation

15.Developmetn of a testing program to conduct acoustic survey of engine brake noise

Centre Investigator
Julie Hatfield

Summary
The RTA has been working with the National Transport Commission (NTC) in the development of a regulatory approach to managing engine brake (EB) noise. There is a need to conduct a community-based survey to examine the association between human reaction (including annoyance) to record EB noise events and various acoustical indices calculated from those events (employing NTC-developed algorithms). The aim of this project was to develop a research design and research materials for this purpose. The RTA was provided with a report that detailed the experimental desing-e.g. sample size and stratification, sampling techniques, stimuli selection (e.g. noise levels, noise impulsivity characteristics), mehtods for obtaining ratings, inclusion of important modifiers (i.e. noise sensitivity, attitudes to the noise source); detailed data analysis and interpretation issues-e.g. selection of an appropriate standard based on "% highly annoyed"; and included survey materials - e.g. researcher instructions, questionnaires.

 

15.05.2007-->

 

 

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