Crashing Closer to Home: New Research Released

Crashing Closer to Home: New Research Released

TDG Principal Researcher Bridget Burdett has just released, along with her co-authors at the University of Waikato, what is believed to be the first empirical study into whether or not we are more likely to crash close to home.   

While there has been some research into the type and nature of vehicle crashes that happen close to our homes, there has not been specific investigation undertaken into whether these crashes are really more likely on roads close to where we live, or if they’re just related to a high proportion of driving within a relatively small circumference of our “home base”. It turns out that crashes are even more likely close to home than driving would predict: they are over-represented compared to travel on roads within about 10km of home.

This research will help insurers, drivers, fleet managers, transport engineers and urban planners better understand how to mitigate risk, clearly identify potential crash locations and minimise harm. It will also help engineers to focus on design that fosters slow speeds on urban roads, to lessen both the likelihood and severity of an injury crash. 

Bridget and the team used data representing all travel and crashes in New Zealand, by New Zealand drivers, from 1 July 2013-30 June 2014. The information from over 31,102 trips was converted into travel exposure on roads at increasing distances from home.

The resulting data shows that crashes close to home are more likely to involve alcohol, illness, or distractionds such as mobile phones, talking with children, or eating. As you might expect, crashes further away from home are more likely to involve fatigue and inexperience.

The close to home effect isn’t limited to just one gender. Although women tend to stay closer to home when they drive, 50% of their injury crashes are within 5km of home, compared to 40% of travel. Men drive further – only 30% of their travel is within 5km of home, but these roads still account for 40% of their injury crashes.

Says Bridget “when you are travelling a well accustomed, usual route, it is almost impossible to focus on the road all the time. Unless something really unusual or unexpected happens, or you’re driving through an intersection that you think is ‘dangerous’, you drive on auto-pilot, admiring the scenery, thinking about the day ahead, or worrying about your headache”.

For the full report or to know more about this research, contact Bridget here. 

Tagged research, accessibility, transport strategy & policy.
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