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But it was an accident

Section overview

An image of a car rolled over.Many road crashes do not involve death, but rather permanent injury (such as spinal and acquired brain injury) or property damage. Unfortunately young drivers are over-represented in motor vehicle crashes—for a range of reasons. This section explores some of those reasons and suggests strategies for reducing the risks associated with driving. It also looks at insurance — whether it is needed, the options available and what to do in the event of a crash.

Resources required

Statistics of crash involvement (for example, our road safety statistics page and the current 'Road Traffic Crashes in Queensland' publication from your local library).

Website links: 

Teacher information 

Crashes involving young people are most commonly caused by one or more of the following:

  • Driver inexperience (for example, driving at night, in the rain, poor hazard perception, driving while distracted by others in the vehicle, and driving in unfamiliar situations).
  • Dangerous risk-taking behaviour (often provoked by peer pressure).
  • Speed (peer pressure, showing off, overconfidence in ability, a skill which is supposedly respected by peers).
  • Alcohol.
There are usually three categories of causes of crashes.
  • human error (for example, loss of control of the vehicle at speed)
  • environmental conditions (for example, wet weather)
  • vehicle failure (for example, a tyre blows out).

Most crashes are caused by human error.

When discussing crashes, many people refer only to the economic cost, in terms of property damage, cost to the health system and the cost of productive years of lives lost. The very real costs to personal and social health are often overlooked by those not directly involved in the crash.

Teachers need to be aware that discussions about road trauma are very sensitive and should be treated as such. Do not use graphic material of crash scenes as this is not effective in reducing crash risk.

Activity 1 

Students read or role play the crash scenario and then answer the following series of questions for discussion. Assume you are a member of the crash investigation team:

  • What are some of the possible causes of the crash? Draw up a table identifying which of these possible causes could be attributed to human error, environmental conditions or vehicle failure. In the final column identify some strategies that might reduce the chance of human error, environmental conditions or vehicle failure leading to a crash.
  • Who should take responsibility for the crash and why? What reasons might people give for taking or not taking responsibility?
  • What are some of the real and possible consequences of the crash for themselves? For others?
  • What changes might you have to make in your own life as a result of the crash? What changes might others have to make?

Activity 2 

Individually or in small groups, students should identify what to do in the event of a crash, that is, the steps they would take. For example, stop, make the crash scene safe, look for/assist any injured, contact emergency services if necessary, exchange information with any other parties involved in the crash, note details of the crash such as time of day, weather conditions and speed being travelled, notify police if necessary, and so on. Then, students discuss the answers and establish a class list. Compare the class list with your original list.

Activity 3

Using the crash scenario, if you were the driver of the car, what processes would you need to go through for informing the insurance company of the crash and organising any insurance claim?

It would be useful to find out the following information:

  • What level of insurance cover do you have?
  • Are there any circumstances that might void the insurance?
  • What time and where did the crash occur?
  • Were the police called?
  • When do the police need to be called to a crash? Hint: Students may need to refer to the insurance research suggested in the unit buying your first car.

Activity 4

Using the crash scenario, develop a consequence wheel identifying some of the possible outcomes of the crash for one of the people directly involved. Hint: Consider physical, social, emotional, financial consequences and the range of people who would be influenced.

Discuss who else might have been affected by the crash? Hint: Consider families, police, other road users, the local community, and accident and emergency staff.

Activity 5

Compare the costs of a relatively minor crash involving someone who is insured and someone who isn't. Assume the following damage has occurred: damage to the bonnet, front left fender and front light, passenger door catching at hinges when opening.

Activity 6

Students apply a decision making strategy to a range of driving scenarios. Students then role play their responses to the scenarios.

Activity 7

The department uses national data in determining that the average cost of a person who loses their life in a motor vehicle crash is $1,945,615. Students investigate the range of costs that might have been taken into consideration in calculating this figure. Hint: consider present and future productivity, medical costs, and funeral costs.

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Last updated
08 January 2018