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Research finds link between alcohol crashes and alcohol outlets

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Motor vehicle crashes are more likely to be alcohol-related if they are further away from on-premise alcohol outlets including bars and pubs, new research by the Curtin-Monash Accident Research Centre (C-MARC) shows.

The research, titled ‘Alcohol availability and road crashes in Perth: how does distance affect the relationship?’, found a link between the presence of alcohol outlets and alcohol-related road crashes, with a crash more likely to involve alcohol as the distance to on-premise alcohol outlets increased.

The paper is among nine projects undertaken by researchers at C-MARC that will be presented at the 2017 Australasian Road Safety Conference in Perth from October 10 to 12.

Lead author Dr Michelle Hobday, a Research Fellow at C-MARC, said the research, funded by the Road Safety Commission, offered important information for enforcement in preventing alcohol-related road crashes.

“This research shows that road crashes are more likely to be alcohol-related as the distance to the closest on-premise alcohol outlets, including bottle shops, pubs and bars, increased,” Dr Hobday said.

“That result suggests that police enforcement, including random breath testing, should take place closer to residential areas, particularly in the early hours of the morning, as well as near areas containing large numbers of alcohol outlets.”

C-MARC Director Professor Lynn Meuleners said the 2017 Australasian Road Safety Conference offered a valuable opportunity to consider the latest research into road safety measures at the largest road safety-dedicated conference in the Southern Hemisphere.

This year’s theme is ‘Expanding our Horizons’ with a focus on research and policy issues relating to road safety management, infrastructure, safe vehicles, user behaviour and post-crash care.

“More than 600 road safety experts and advocates from around the globe are meeting to share the latest in road safety research at the 2017 Australasian Road Safety Conference,” Professor Meuleners said.

“More than 200 papers and 11 symposia will be presented by a variety of experts, who will share ideas about best practice in terms of evidence-based results, as well as the best way to move forward with renewed ideas, programs, energy and optimism to reduce serious injury from motor vehicle crashes.”

Among C-MARC research papers being presented at the 2017 Australasian Road Safety Conference in Perth include:

  • An Evaluation of the Effectiveness and Cost-effectiveness of a Rural Run-off-road Crash Program in Western Australia

 Research team: C-MARC Main Roads WA Research Fellow Dr Kyle Chow, Professor Lynn Meuleners (C-MARC), Associate Professor Adrian Wong (C-MARC), Tony Radalj (Main Roads WA), Dr Fritha Argus (Main Roads WA)

Summary: Single vehicle run-off road crashes accounted for almost 60 per cent of all road deaths and serious injuries in regional and remote WA from 2008 to 2012. A total of 984 kilometres of rural WA roads received road treatments under the rural Run-off Road Crash Program from 2012 to 2015. This study evaluated the effectiveness of the WA program in reducing the frequency and severity of run-off road crashes, as well as the program’s cost-effectiveness in terms of savings to the community for each dollar invested.

  • An Evaluation of the Effectiveness of the State Black Spot Program in Western Australia, 2000-2014

 Research team: C-MARC Main Roads WA Research Fellow Dr Kyle Chow, Professor Lynn Meuleners (C-MARC), Associate Professor Adrian Wong (C-MARC), Tony Radalj (Main Roads WA), Dr Fritha Argus (Main Roads WA)

Summary: This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of the WA Black Spot program in reducing crash frequency and severity at existing black spots treated between 2000 and 2014. The results will provide Main Roads WA and other road safety organisations with reliable and objective information for enhancing strategies for future investment. 

  • The application of a proxy measure to estimate the incidence and characteristics of driver fatigue in motor vehicle crashes

Researcher: C-MARC Research Fellow Peter Palamara

Summary: The research describes the incidence and characteristics of fatigue as a contributing factor in reported road crashes in WA, from 2009 to 2013. The research involved a comparative analysis of police reported fatigue-related crashes and the application of a post-crash operational definition for fatigue crashes. The two measures showed differences in the number and type of crashes identified to be fatigue-related. A combination of the two measures showed that up to 17.6 per cent of all reported fatal crashes and 8.3 per cent of all reported hospitalisation crashes could be identified as fatigue-related. A revised post-crash measure of fatigue was recommended as a result of the research.

  • A naturalistic study of group riding in Perth, WA

 Researcher: C-MARC Research Associate Michelle Fraser

Summary: This study collected more than 200 hours of video footage and GPS data of group riding in Perth. Individual cyclists attached cameras to the front and rear of their bikes and recorded up to six hours of footage of their usual group riding. The study analysed unsafe events and behaviours observed in the group riding footage and determined risk factors for these. This presentation will outline the methodology of the study and provide some initial observations of the footage.

  • Identification of High Risk Metropolitan Intersection Sites in Perth Metropolitan Area

 Research team: C-MARC Main Roads WA Research Fellow Dr Kyle Chow, C-MARC Research Fellow Dr Michelle Hobday, Professor Lynn Meuleners (C-MARC), Fritha Argus (Main Roads WA) and Tony Radalj (Main Roads WA)

Summary: Given there is a greater crash risk at intersections compared to the rest of the road network, it is important to prioritise intersections for safety improvements. A three-stage approach, which took into account the number of fatal and serious injury crashes and traffic flow at intersections, was used to identify these intersections. The results identified the high risk intersections in Perth for each intersection type (by speed environment and traffic control type). Extensions to this process are recommended to improve high risk intersection identification, and the use of a classification system to improve intersection safety.

  • Which objective visual measures are associated with driving exposure among older drivers with bilateral cataract?

 Research team: C-MARC Research Associate Seraina Agramunt, Professor Lynn Meuleners (C-MARC)

Summary: This study analysed the link between objective visual measures and naturalistic driving behaviour in older drivers with bilateral cataract. Participants completed a questionnaire and underwent testing for visual acuity, contrast sensitivity and stereopsis. Naturalistic driving behaviour was measured with an in-vehicle monitoring device. The results found that older drivers with cataract appeared to self-regulate their driving exposure based on poorer visual function. Contrast sensitivity appears to be an important visual measure to consider when determining the impact of cataract on driving behaviour. A better understanding of the role of contrast sensitivity in driving and driver self-regulation practices is required.

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