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Classifying Safe System Fatalities
An examination of Victorian road fatalities in relation to components of the safe system.
The safe system, if properly and fully applied, should see the near elimination of deaths and permanently disabling injuries from road crashes. As Victoria's road safety agencies increasingly adopt and apply safe system principles, it becomes important to be able to measure and report on progress of safe system implementation and coverage. Application of the safe system principles requires action in three areas: road users, particularly in relation to access to the road network and adherence to road rules; vehicles, in relation to crashworthiness and crash avoidance; and roads and roadsides with associated speed limits. It is important to measure the effectiveness of the application of the safe system principles within these three areas.
The TAC created a framework for classifying fatality crashes according to the presence or absence of each of the three elements of the safe system. Subsequently, the TAC appraised 578 fatality crashes that occurred during 2009 and 2010 and evaluated them within this classification framework. Information including vehicle safety ratings and road user compliance with certain road rules such as restraint wearing was recorded. An assessment was made of the environment and infrastructure involved in the crash, for example, the presence of run-off-road protection and posted speed limits.
This paper describes the classification framework and the application of the framework to police reported fatalities. It then presents some key metrics arising from analysis of the compiled data and highlights challenges to the realisation of the safe system.