Australian study shows connected and automated driving could reduce road injuries

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New research completed by the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC), in Victoria, Australia, has found that road trauma in Australia and New Zealand could be significantly reduced by the adoption of rapidly developing technologies that change the way drivers use vehicles.

The report, published and funded by Austroads, investigated the safety benefits of key Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) and automated driving applications. The report estimated the potential annual savings to serious injuries the technologies could make in Australia and New Zealand, where road trauma is one of the highest ranking public health issues. Crashes result in almost 1,300 people killed and 35,500 hospitalized in Australia each year, and in New Zealand, 319 people were killed and 12,270 injured in 2015.

C-ITS applications that use wireless communications to alert drivers, intervene in dangerous situations, reduce traffic congestion, and increase system efficiency, were found to have the potential to significantly reduce road crashes and injury consequences. According to the report, the full adoption of C-ITS could reduce 35-50% of adjacent direction crashes at intersections by warning drivers when there is a high risk of colliding with another vehicle.

Another substantial benefit of C-ITS was the ability to warn drivers of a potential collision with an oncoming vehicle, with the application projected to reduce these crashes by up to 40%.

Automated driving applications showed similarly beneficial projections in reducing road trauma, decreasing the studied crash types by up to 50%. However, the researchers believe it could take 25 years for automated driving and C-ITS applications to fully penetrate the on-road fleet.

“The report draws on an in-depth examination of data to understand whether real-world serious injury crashes in Australia and New Zealand could have been prevented if technologies such as forward collision warning, curve speed warning, intersection movement assist, right turn assist, lane keeping assist and auto emergency braking were fitted in all light passenger vehicles,” said Austroads chief executive, Nick Koukoulas. “This report underlines the need to continue to invest in supporting physical and digital infrastructure, policy and trials to further understand what our future needs will be.”

MUARC senior research fellow, Dr David Logan, a lead member of the study, noted, “The full adoption among the light passenger vehicle fleet of a selection of key automated driving and connected vehicle safety applications has the potential to prevent between 4,100 and 6,500 fatal and serious injury crashes in Australia, and 310-485 fatal and serious injury crashes in New Zealand, each year.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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