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The young, the old and the vulnerable over-represented in Canberra road crashes

By Glynis Quinlan - 28 August 2017 6

Young drivers aged 15-29 and drivers over 75 are over-represented in Canberra road crashes that cause injury, according to the 2016 ACT Road Crash Report released today.

There were 7,911 reported crashes on ACT roads last year resulting in 748 injuries – including 11 fatalities and 110 hospital admissions.

The percentage of fatalities per capita is less than the national average but there are concerns that vulnerable road users such as cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists make up around a third of those injured or killed.

ACT Road Safety Minister Shane Rattenbury urged Canberrans to commit to the Government’s ‘Vision Zero’ approach to road safety which focuses on these vulnerable road users, as well as speed management, impaired and dangerous driving and driver distraction.

“Although there were fewer deaths and serious injuries on our roads in 2016 compared to the previous year, it is not a cause to celebrate. Eleven people lost their lives and that is heartbreaking,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“I am really concerned that Canberrans read these statistics and only see the numbers. Vision Zero means that no fatality is acceptable, given the enormous emotional costs to families and the community when a person is involved in a serious accident.

“I urge all Canberrans to consider Vision Zero. Together, we can keep our community safe on our roads.”

The report states that four of the 11 fatalities and 222 of those injured were vulnerable road users such as cyclists, pedestrians or motorcyclists. These figures represent 36 per cent of fatalities and 30 per cent of injuries that occurred last year.

The report also highlights that younger drivers in the ACT (aged 15-29 years) and provisional drivers continue to be disproportionately represented in crashes involving injuries.

Drivers aged 15-29 years represented 34 per cent of vehicle controller injuries despite making up around 25 per cent of licence holders.

In the same vein, ACT provisional drivers represented 7 per cent of drivers involved in fatal crashes and 11 per cent of injury crashes – despite comprising around 6 per cent of licence holders.

The report also states that drivers aged over 75 years were over represented in crashes involving injuries (7 per cent) in proportion to the number of licence holders in that age group (5 per cent).

In crashes where the vehicle controller was injured, 75 were drivers aged 65 years or older, representing 13 per cent of all vehicle controller injuries. This is the highest number of injuries recorded for this age group over the last 10 years.

The report states that the ‘rear-end’ collision was the most frequent type of road crash in 2016 – accounting for 45 per cent of all crashes.

However, the ‘right-angle’ collision was the main cause of the severest type of crashes. This type of collision accounted for 24 per cent of all injuries despite being the cause of only 14 per cent of all crashes.

ACT road crashes in 2016 according to severity and accident type. Source: ACT Government – ACT Road Crash Report.

The report indicates that the ACT continues to record the lowest annual road fatalities per 100,000 population among all Australian states and territories. However, it makes the point that these figures do not account for injuries and fatalities involving Canberra drivers across the border.

“A study by Australian Road Research Board (ARRB) for the NRMA-ACT Road Safety Trust found that in the period 2006–2010 ACT vehicle controllers were involved in 55 fatal crashes and 1,188 injury crashes in NSW – demonstrating that the effects of road trauma on the ACT community are not solely confined to ACT roads,” the report states.

The 2016 ACT Road Crash Report is available at www.justice.act.gov.au.

What can be done to reduce the number of young drivers and old drivers having crashes on Canberra roads? Can we do more to protect cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists on our roads? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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6 Responses to
The young, the old and the vulnerable over-represented in Canberra road crashes
tim_c 2:29 pm 30 Aug 17

It’s a bit pointless trying to have a “Vision Zero” when it only “means that no fatality is acceptable”. Surely it would be better to have a Vision Zero that means that no injury (whether fatal or otherwise) is acceptable.

I get the impression that it’s considered appropriate (perhaps even considered ‘normal’ for many) to have collisions, as long as they are not fatal, forgetting that other injuries have a huge cost to the community as well. I fear there is a focus only on the lives that are ended, not those that are forever ruined.

And even collisions that don’t result in injury have costs to the community that are in most cases avoidable. Why does our government continue to permit people to drive vehicles that they quite obviously can’t control (it’s far too common to see signs flattened by drivers out of control – each of these could just as easily be a pedestrian, cyclist, motorcyclist).

dungfungus 2:30 pm 29 Aug 17

Ghettosmurf87 said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

Hardly surprising when you consider the fact you can get your P plates without passing a driving test, as long as you have a fully licensed driver willing to sign off your log book even if you haven’t mastered any basic skills. This is a flaw in the system, when you place the responsibility of testing in the hands of people whose skills are unknown and leave it open to to be abused without any scrutiny. Everybody should be assessed against a benchmark standard, not by individuals who may not themselves be competent. Now I see why P platers are the worst offenders on our roads.

Just to clarify here, a Learner driver cannot obtain their licence by being assessed by a full-licence holder. They may be able to log hours of driving experience to demonstrate a minimum practice level, but all Learner drivers must be passed by an ACT accredited driving instructor, either through the one-off test, or by the completion of continual assessment with said accredited instructor.

Link https://www.accesscanberra.act.gov.au/app/answers/detail/a_id/1581#!tabs-3

Absolutely agree that re-assessment should be done at regular intervals. Obviously this is quite onerous and would have a high administrative overhead in cost and regulation, but it’s a bit of a farce that a 50-60 year old that obtained a licence over 30-40years ago, under what are likely to be much less regulated conditions, have never been re-assessed for competency or comprehension of any road rule changes that may have occurred in the intervening time.

We used to annual vehicle road-worthiness checks for registration. Even if the vehicle was in tip-top condition (which it had to be) if an idiot was behind the wheel it’s condition would have been academic.

Ghettosmurf87 1:06 pm 29 Aug 17

wildturkeycanoe said :

Hardly surprising when you consider the fact you can get your P plates without passing a driving test, as long as you have a fully licensed driver willing to sign off your log book even if you haven’t mastered any basic skills. This is a flaw in the system, when you place the responsibility of testing in the hands of people whose skills are unknown and leave it open to to be abused without any scrutiny. Everybody should be assessed against a benchmark standard, not by individuals who may not themselves be competent. Now I see why P platers are the worst offenders on our roads.

Just to clarify here, a Learner driver cannot obtain their licence by being assessed by a full-licence holder. They may be able to log hours of driving experience to demonstrate a minimum practice level, but all Learner drivers must be passed by an ACT accredited driving instructor, either through the one-off test, or by the completion of continual assessment with said accredited instructor.

Link https://www.accesscanberra.act.gov.au/app/answers/detail/a_id/1581#!tabs-3

Absolutely agree that re-assessment should be done at regular intervals. Obviously this is quite onerous and would have a high administrative overhead in cost and regulation, but it’s a bit of a farce that a 50-60 year old that obtained a licence over 30-40years ago, under what are likely to be much less regulated conditions, have never been re-assessed for competency or comprehension of any road rule changes that may have occurred in the intervening time.

Mysteryman 10:38 am 29 Aug 17

wildturkeycanoe said :

Hardly surprising when you consider the fact you can get your P plates without passing a driving test, as long as you have a fully licensed driver willing to sign off your log book even if you haven’t mastered any basic skills. This is a flaw in the system, when you place the responsibility of testing in the hands of people whose skills are unknown and leave it open to to be abused without any scrutiny. Everybody should be assessed against a benchmark standard, not by individuals who may not themselves be competent. Now I see why P platers are the worst offenders on our roads.
As for over 75s, it comes down to depth perception and reflex speed. I am aghast at some elderly who putt around doing 30km/h below the speed limit, who stop two car lengths back from stop lines and take so long to react to traffic signal changes they barely make it through before turning red again. Re-assessment needs to be done at a certain age or even at regular intervals to sort out those who are unsafe. Our family intervened with my grandfather, when we discovered his dangerous road habits. The RTA almost wouldn’t let us, without getting medical intervention. It would have been easier to get the police to follow him around to have his license revoked, than to be proactive about community safety.

That’s not how the logbook system works. You complete a required number of competencies with a qualified instructor, the final test being demonstration of all the competencies in a single journey. The final lesson is the equivalent of the standard Ps test – failing any one competency will result in a failure.

dungfungus 9:02 am 29 Aug 17

wildturkeycanoe said :

Hardly surprising when you consider the fact you can get your P plates without passing a driving test, as long as you have a fully licensed driver willing to sign off your log book even if you haven’t mastered any basic skills. This is a flaw in the system, when you place the responsibility of testing in the hands of people whose skills are unknown and leave it open to to be abused without any scrutiny. Everybody should be assessed against a benchmark standard, not by individuals who may not themselves be competent. Now I see why P platers are the worst offenders on our roads.
As for over 75s, it comes down to depth perception and reflex speed. I am aghast at some elderly who putt around doing 30km/h below the speed limit, who stop two car lengths back from stop lines and take so long to react to traffic signal changes they barely make it through before turning red again. Re-assessment needs to be done at a certain age or even at regular intervals to sort out those who are unsafe. Our family intervened with my grandfather, when we discovered his dangerous road habits. The RTA almost wouldn’t let us, without getting medical intervention. It would have been easier to get the police to follow him around to have his license revoked, than to be proactive about community safety.

I am surprised that a lot of Canberra families will spend a fortune on educating their children but when it comes to teaching the same children the skills and etiquette of driving a motor vehicle they are happy to outsource the task to driving schools and friends.
I suppose a lot of them exploit the flaw in the system you have pointed out and this needs to be closed, immediately.
I taught my son to drive (in a manual) and constantly reminded him to obey the speed limits, red lights and stop signs no matter where he was or the time of the day or night. The outcome of that is that after driving for 15 years he has only incurred 1 parking infringement yet most of his peers have lost their licences at least once on the demerit points plan.
Why can’t the community police get involved with testing like they used to?
Sure, their are some problems with the elderly but I find that a bit of tolerance goes a long way. I am tolerant of learner drivers and errant cyclists in the same way.

wildturkeycanoe 6:36 am 29 Aug 17

Hardly surprising when you consider the fact you can get your P plates without passing a driving test, as long as you have a fully licensed driver willing to sign off your log book even if you haven’t mastered any basic skills. This is a flaw in the system, when you place the responsibility of testing in the hands of people whose skills are unknown and leave it open to to be abused without any scrutiny. Everybody should be assessed against a benchmark standard, not by individuals who may not themselves be competent. Now I see why P platers are the worst offenders on our roads.
As for over 75s, it comes down to depth perception and reflex speed. I am aghast at some elderly who putt around doing 30km/h below the speed limit, who stop two car lengths back from stop lines and take so long to react to traffic signal changes they barely make it through before turning red again. Re-assessment needs to be done at a certain age or even at regular intervals to sort out those who are unsafe. Our family intervened with my grandfather, when we discovered his dangerous road habits. The RTA almost wouldn’t let us, without getting medical intervention. It would have been easier to get the police to follow him around to have his license revoked, than to be proactive about community safety.

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