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Road safety research reports

The Department of Transport and Main Roads conducts and manages road safety research projects and activities to support road safety policy development and the evaluation of road safety initiatives. Research, data and innovation are supporting action areas for the Safer Roads, Safer Queensland: Queensland's Road Safety Action Plan 2015-17.

Below are the reports for projects investigating the following topics:

Road safety perceptions and attitudes

The department commissions Market and Communications Research to undertake an annual survey of Queensland annual road safety perceptions and attitudes (RSPAT Survey). A sample of 600 motorists, representative of the licensed driver population in Queensland, completes the survey. Topics vary between years, but include the Fatal Five (speeding, drink and drug driving, fatigue, seatbelt use and distraction), school transport safety, young drivers, motorcycles, heavy vehicles, vehicle safety and cycling.

In 2014, a separate survey of 250 powered 2-wheeler riders (motorcycles, scooters and mopeds) was also conducted.

Safer speeds

Evaluation of Camera Detected Offence Program (CDOP)

The Department of Transport and Main Roads commissioned the Monash University Accident Research Centre to evaluate the effects of the Camera Detected Offence Program (CDOP) using 2013-2015 data. The CDOP was associated with an overall reduction in all police-reported crashes of between 24 and 30% over 2013-2015. This reduction represents an annual saving of at least 3,400 crashes of all severities per year. Savings to the community were estimated at between $618 million (human capital) and $1.4 billion (willingness to pay).

A previous evaluation of the CDOP was conducted by Monash University Accident Research Centre using 2009-2012 data. The 2013-2015 evaluation shows that while the CDOP is associated with a lower number of annual all-severity crash savings, these savings represent a larger portion of all crashes than in 2009-2012. This demonstrates that crash savings through the CDOP improved during 2013-2015 compared to 2009-2012.

Vehicle speeds on Queensland Roads – May 2015

The Department of Transport and Main Roads in collaboration with other government agencies is committed to safe speeds on Queensland’s roads. The department regularly conducts speed surveys to monitor speeding behaviour of road users in the different speed limits and types of road environments across the road network. These surveys monitor trends in average speeds and percentages of vehicles travelling over the speed limit.

Findings from these surveys are used to develop speed-related policies and initiatives. The May 2015 speed survey results are briefly outlined in the following sections to highlight changes in speeding behaviour and the subsequent effects on road injuries.

The data was analysed by Transport and Main Roads and is described in the report Vehicle speeds on Queensland roads – May 2015.

Figure 1: provides a snapshot of May 2015 speed survey results of motorist compliance to the posted speed limits. View the text based version of this infograph.

Summary of the May 2015 speed compliance results

 

Speeding: trends

Figure 2: 50km/h urban roads average speed results from May 2009 – May 2015. View the text based version of this infograph.  

50km/hr urban roads average speed results from 2009 – May 2015

Figure 3: 60km/h roads average speed results from May 2010 – May 2015. View the text based version of this infograph.

60km/hr average speed results from May 2010 – May 2015

Figure 4: 100km/h rural roads average speed from May 2010 – May 2015. View the text based version of this infograph.

100km/hr rural roads average speed from May 2010 – May 2015

Results from the May 2015 speed survey show: 

  • the majority of motorists did not exceed the posted speed limit (Figure 1)
  • for most speed limits the average speeds travelled are steadily decreasing since the first speed survey results in May 2009 and May 2010 (Figure 2 to Figure 4)
  • compared to 2014, vehicles travelling more than 10km/h over the limit significantly increased on urban 50km/h roads, but significantly decreased on urban and rural 60-100km/h roads as a group
  • the highest rate of motorists complying with the speed limits was on 60km/h urban roads, at 92.07%
  • motorists most frequently travelled above the speed limit on 50km/h urban road (36.13%), where 28.14% of motorists travelled up to 10km/h above the speed limit. 

Estimated reductions in road trauma

Road safety research has identified that changes to travel speed can affect the number of road crashes and the severity of injuries. The estimates for percentages of people injured and fatally injured as a result of changes to travel speeds for the May 2015 speed survey, compared to the previous survey, were generally unchanged compared to 2014, with an overall long term downward trend. Notable exception was the 2015 increase on urban 50 km/h roads. For example, comparing the May 2015 results to those of May 2014, we would expect: 

  • 3.25% more people injured and 8.09% more people fatally injured on 50km/h urban roads
  • 1.15% less people injured and 2.77% less people fatally injured on 60km/h urban roads; and 0.05% less people injured and 0.12% less people fatally injured on 60km/h rural roads
  • 0.02% more people injured and 0.04% more people fatally injured on 100km/h rural roads. 

Towards Safe Speeds

It is encouraging that there is a long term downward trend in speeding, with the May 2015 speed survey results showing that, for the most part, motorists are reducing their speeds along Queensland’s road network; people are increasingly driving more safety. Safer speeds within posted speed limits enable motorists to manoeuvre their vehicle out of danger more easily and reduce the risk of road crashes and trauma. Results also clearly show that most people drive at safe speeds, addressing a misconception that “everybody speeds”. 

Nevertheless, a large minority (31%) do speed. As a comparison, seatbelt use in Queensland stands around 99% (Pekol et al., 2011), suggesting that, unlike the risks associated with driving unrestrained, many Queenslanders still lack an understanding of the risks associated with speeding. Indeed, while perceptions that speeding is a major contributor in crashes increased in 2015, generally, they have been declining. On the other hand, self-reported compliance with speed limits has been increasing (TMR, Road Safety Perceptions and Attitudes Tracking survey, 2015. Therefore, this improvement in behaviour is likely due to the effectiveness of enforcement, as perceptions of the likelihood of being detected at any speed over the limit have also been increasing. The effectiveness of the Camera Detected Offence Program in both reducing speeds and road trauma has been clearly demonstrated (Newstead and Cameron, 2014). Therefore, attitudes may improve with the change in behaviour, as research shows that attitudes can be changed by a change in behaviour (Fleiter et. al., 2016). 

Results suggest that risks for motorists travelling on 50km/h urban roads may have increased in 2015 back to similar levels seen in 2009-2011, due to a return to similar travel speeds. For example, in 2014 the percentage of vehicles travelling more than 10km/h over the limit significantly decreased by 0.66% compared to 2011 (the previous survey), and then in 2015, the percentage significantly increased by 0.65% compared to 2014 (effectively returning to the 2011 proportion). These lower speed zones are commonly local residential roads with a high number of elderly, children, cyclists and pedestrians present. As a result of the inherent risks when travelling above the posted speed limits, TMR and the Queensland Police Service will therefore continue to focus on driver behaviour through strategic speed enforcement initiatives, and road safety awareness campaigns for safer speeds for safer Queensland roads.

References
Transport and Main Roads, (2015). Department of Transport and Main Roads RSPAT survey 2015. Report A. Brisbane: TMR.
Fleiter, J., Lewis, I., Kaye, S., Soole, D., Rakotonirainy, A., Debnath, A. (2016). Public demand for safer speeds: Identification of Interventions for Trial. Sydney, Austroads report AP-R507-16. 
Kloeden, C.N., Ponte, G., and McLean, A.J. (2001). Travelling speed and the risk of crash involvement on rural roads. CR204. Canberra: Australian Transport Safety Bureau.
Kloeden, C.N., McLean, A.J., and Glonek, G. (2002). Reanalysis of travelling speed and the risk of crash involvement in Adelaide South Australia. CR 207. Canberra: Australian Transportation Safety Bureau.
Newstead, S.V., Budd, L., Cameron, M.H. (2014). Evaluation of the Queensland Camera Detected Offence Program (CDOP): 2009-2012. Melbourne, Monash University Accident Research Centre. 
Pekol, A., Paulus, R., Leal, N., Dovan, N., and Wooldridge, M. (2011). Wear it or wear the cost: Current seatbelt wearing rates in Queensland, ACRS conference proceedings.

School transport safety

The department conducted an evaluation of the effectiveness of flashing school zone signs in increasing compliance with temporary reduced speed limits near schools. Two sources of data were examined: self-reported attitudes and behaviours of road users; and observations of vehicle travel speeds in and around school zones. The self-report study results showed 91% of respondents believed they were more compliant with speed limits with active flashing signs. The observational survey results showed a slight reduction in mean speeds and a 45% reduction in the percentage of vehicles over the limit by more than 10km/h.

Young drivers

The department commissioned a preliminary evaluation of the 2007 changes to the Queensland Graduated Licensing System, funded by the Motor Accident Insurance Commission. The project was conducted by researchers at the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC). The 2007 changes were associated with a 31% reduction in fatal crashes involving young novice drivers, confirming the value of comprehensive graduated licensing systems in reducing novice driver road trauma. At the time of the preliminary evaluation, there was insufficient data to reliably examine the individual effects of all components of the new system. MUARC suggest that the evaluation should be re-run when 2 to 3 years more data is available.

In 2016, a further evaluation of the GDL reforms was conducted with a more substantial data set. The evaluation was conducted by Transport and Road Safety (TARS) Research of the University of New South Wales. Consistent with evidence from other jurisdictions, the evaluation results show some crash and casualty reductions for novice drivers over time. However, a high safety risk remains for drivers immediately after the transition from supervised driving in the learner period to unsupervised driving in the provisional licence period. 

The department commissioned the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety - Queensland to conduct a literature review of evidence on driver training and education, including simulator-based training. Three reports were delivered:

  1. Trends in driver education and training
  2. Simulators for skills acquisition and assessment
  3. Evidence-based driver education policy options

Motorcycle rider safety

The department commissioned a 3-year project investigating motorcycle rider safety, funded by the Motor Accident Insurance Commission. The project was conducted by researchers at the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland, and investigated pre-learner training, reviewed the Q-Ride Consistent Assessment Process, and investigated interventions for reducing risk taking and improving higher-order cognitive skills (including hazard perception) among new riders.

Unlicensed driving and unregistered vehicle use

The department commissioned a 3-year project investigating unlicensed driving and unregistered vehicle use, funded by the Motor Accident Insurance Commission. The project was conducted by researchers at the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland. The project was conducted by researchers at the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS-Q). The project considered the following:

  • the estimated the prevalence of unregistered vehicle use in Queensland
  • the links between unlicensed driving and unregistered vehicle use
  • developed, compared and trialled methods for estimating the rate of unlicensed driving in Queensland
  • identified the personal and social factors underpinning unlicensed driving
  • investigated the crash involvement pattern of unlicensed drivers.
  • Overall summary report

Trial of the minimum passing distance road rule

A 2-year trial of road rules specifying minimum distances for motorists passing bicycle riders on Queensland roads commenced on 7 April 2014. The department commissioned the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland to perform an evaluation of the trial. The evaluation assessed the effectiveness of the rule in terms of its practical implementation, impact on road users’ attitudes and perceptions and road safety benefits. 

Last updated
11 July 2017