Improvements in vehicle safety are helping drivers avoid crashes, and protecting occupants and other road users when crashes happen. Vehicle technology is developing at a rapid rate, with new technologies on the rise. However, as the average age of the South Australian vehicle fleet is just over 11 years, it will take considerable time for those technologies to be available to the majority of road users.
A major aim of this strategy is to accelerate the take-up of proven safety technologies into the vehicle fleet. Some, such as intelligent speed adaptation (ISA) and alcohol interlocks can be retrofitted to existing vehicles so quicker benefits may be possible. On the other hand, important technologies such as stability control and occupant protection measures are not suitable for retrofitting.
Over the next ten years, many of the innovations in new vehicles will become more commonplace for South Australian drivers. For example, more than 50 per cent of vehicles will have electronic stability control and about the same proportion will have a 5-Star Safety Rating (based on today’s standards). Because of the slow turnover of vehicles, many of the advances in new vehicles made in the past decade are only now beginning to become commonplace. Therefore, part of the benefit of newer vehicles will come from momentum already in the vehicle system.
Consumer driven safety
The safety of new vehicles varies considerably, so if buyers are to choose safer cars, they need reliable, understandable and accessible information.
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) assesses the crashworthiness and safety features of new vehicles, assigning stars based on safety performance, setting a de-facto standard for many manufacturers.
The Used Car Safety Rating (UCSR) program provides real world data about the safety of different vehicles in the used market. These star rating programs allow all buyers to make informed decisions, encouraging levels of safety that exceed those required by regulation. Taking every opportunity to promote and explain ANCAP and UCSR results is an important part of this strategy.
A large proportion of the private vehicles now travelling on South Australian roads were first registered as part of a private or Government fleet. Encouraging fleet buyers to adopt safe buying practices will have strong flow-on benefits and over time, improve vehicle safety in the total fleet. There are a number of possible approaches for influencing fleet buyers that need to be investigated. These approaches include provision of better information, public recognition for safe fleets and incorporation into occupational health and safety requirements.
Educating young people about vehicle safety features as part of the broader educative approach to driver training will help change attitudes, behaviours and practices which affect young people’s safety on the road. The benefits of buying safer vehicles to protect the most inexperienced drivers will also be encouraged.
New technologies are available, such as ISA, which provide information about road and traffic conditions to both the driver and the vehicle. These technologies rely on vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle communication. It will be our focus to provide the necessary digital mapping and fixed technology for take-up of these vital innovations.
Research confirms that there are currently important emerging technologies, which have the potential to significantly reduce road trauma.
The best current example is frontal collision avoidance technology, which allows the vehicle to automatically brake or reduce speed to avoid a collision or reduce its severity. Accelerating its introduction into the fleet would save further injury. Another example is anti-lock braking systems (ABS) on motorcycles, which have improved the safety of motorcycles and reduced out of control crashes.
The frontal design of vehicles can have a major effect on the severity of injuries to pedestrians. ANCAP tests the pedestrian friendliness of vehicles, but while the ANCAP star rating for occupant protection has improved considerably, there has been little change in vehicle safety ratings for pedestrian collisions in the same period. South Australia is well placed to explain and promote the importance of the pedestrian rating as the relevant crash testing is conducted in Adelaide.
The health sector plays a major role in improving road safety. Timely and effective post crash care is clearly vital and cooperation is needed between health, road designers and vehicle regulators to ensure advantage is taken of new technologies, which allow more rapid and accurate reporting and locating of crashes.
The National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020 includes a number of vehicle-related initiatives including extending ANCAP, streamlining the vehicle regulation system and strengthening vehicle regulations for heavy vehicles and motorcycles. South Australia will actively support these initiatives.
Key strategies for Safer Vehicles
|Percentage of new vehicles sold in SA with a 5-Star Safety Rating.||