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  • ATSB RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS REPORT ROAD SAFETY

    Characteristics of Fatal Road Crashes During National Holiday Periods

    July 2006

  • ATSB RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS REPORT

    ROAD SAFETY

    Characteristics of Fatal Road Crashes During National Holiday Periods

    July 2006

  • Published by: Australian Transport Safety Bureau Postal address: PO Box 967, Civic Square ACT 2608 Office location: 15 Mort Street, Canberra City, Australian Capital Territory Telephone: 1800 621 372; from overseas + 61 2 6274 6590 Facsimile: 02 6274 6474; from overseas + 61 2 6274 6474 E-mail: atsbinfo@atsb.gov.au Internet: www.atsb.gov.au

    © Commonwealth of Australia 2006

    This work is copyright. To encourage the dissemination of this publication, it may be copied, downloaded, displayed, printed, reproduced, and distributed in unaltered form (retaining this notice). Quoting from the publication is permitted where the source is acknowledged as the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

    Subject to the provisions of the Copyright Act 1968, no other use of the material in this publication may be made without the authorisation of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. Where copyright of any material in this publication belongs to other organisations or private individuals, authorisation to use that material must be sought directly from them.

    ISBN and formal report title: see ‘Document retrieval information’ on page iii.

    ii CHARACTERISTICS OF FATAL ROAD CRASHES DURING NATIONAL HOLIDAY PERIODS

  • DOCUMENT RETRIEVAL INFORMATION Report No.

    Publication date July 2006

    No. of pages 22

    ISBN 0 642 25541 5

    ISSN

    Publication title Characteristics of Fatal Road Crashes During National Holiday Periods

    Organisation that prepared this document Australian Transport Safety Bureau PO Box 967, Civic Square ACT Australia 2608 www.atsb.gov.au

    Acknowledgements The ATSB acknowledges the contribution of data by state and territory roads and police authorities.

    Abstract The study examines annual trends in road fatality numbers for Christmas and Easter holiday periods, and undertakes a comparative analysis of crash factors between holiday periods and the remainder of the year. Pronounced year to year fluctuations in the data suggest that the number of people killed in any given holiday period is significantly influenced by random events. An analysis of average number of deaths per day found that fatality rates during holiday periods were not systematically higher or lower than fatality rates at other times of the year. The study also found no evidence of any change in the involvement of primary causal factors (speeding, alcohol or fatigue). The findings are broadly consistent with the results of a similar study undertaken in 2003.

    Keywords Road, Crash, Fatality, Risk, , Holiday, Exposure

    Notes (1) ATSB reports are disseminated in the interest of information exchange.

    CHARACTERISTICS OF FATAL ROAD CRASHES DURING NATIONAL HOLIDAY PERIODS iii

  • CONTENTS

    Executive summary .......................................................................................................................... v

    Acknowledgements......................................................................................................................... vii

    1 Introduction .............................................................................................................................. 1 1.1 Background.................................................................................................................... 1 1.2 Data................................................................................................................................ 1

    1.2.1 Data sources................................................................................................. 1 1.2.2 Data limitations............................................................................................ 2

    2 Results........................................................................................................................................ 3 2.1 Crash and fatality rates and trends................................................................................. 3 2.2 Crash characteristics ...................................................................................................... 7

    2.2.1 Location of crash ......................................................................................... 7 2.2.2 Type of crash ............................................................................................... 8 2.2.3 Involvement of articulated trucks ................................................................ 9 2.2.4 Time and day of crash.................................................................................. 9

    2.3 Factors involved in the crash ....................................................................................... 10 2.4 Road user characteristics ............................................................................................. 11

    2.4.1 Type of road user ....................................................................................... 11 2.4.2 Age and gender .......................................................................................... 11

    3 Discussion ................................................................................................................................ 13 3.1 Main findings............................................................................................................... 13 3.2 Conclusions.................................................................................................................. 13

    4 References ............................................................................................................................... 15

    iv CHARACTERISTICS OF FATAL ROAD CRASHES DURING NATIONAL HOLIDAY PERIODS

  • EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    Introduction

    National holiday periods are commonly viewed as times of heightened danger on our roads. The Christmas and Easter holiday seasons1, in particular, are associated with large increases in private travel, longer trip distances, more travel in rural environments, greater police enforcement activity and raised penalties for traffic offences. Fatal road crashes during these major holiday periods also attract intense media scrutiny, even though they only account for five to six per cent in total of all road deaths.

    In 2003, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) investigated the characteristics of fatal road crashes in Christmas holiday periods and compared them with crashes occurring at other times of the year (ATSB, 2003). The study found no significant differences in daily crash frequencies and little difference in the involvement of major causal factors.

    The current study uses recent data to revisit some of the issues addressed in the earlier work. It examines annual trends in road fatality numbers for Christmas and Easter holiday periods, and undertakes a comparative analysis of crash factors between holiday periods and the remainder of the year.

    Main findings

    Annual time series data for Christmas and Easter holiday periods were compiled for the last 15 years. In both of these series, the numbers of fatal road crashes and deaths showed considerable variability, with pronounced fluctuations from year to year. Between 1996 and 2005, fatality numbers ranged between 48 and 86 for Christmas periods, and between 14 and 31 for Easter.

    When the data were transformed into average numbers of deaths per day, it was found that fatality rates during the holiday periods were not systematically higher or lower than fatality rates at other times of the year. During the five year period, 2001 to 2005, there was an average of 4.4 deaths per day during Christmas holidays, 4.6 during Easter holidays, and 4.5 over the remainder of the period.

    Further analysis of average daily fatality rates was unable to find any clear seasonal patterns or annual cycles in the data.

    The study examined the characteristics of fatal crashes during Christmas periods, compared with fatal crashes occurring during the remainder of the year. Observed differences were generally small in size and not statistically significant, but were consistent with findings from the earlier study.

    1 ‘Christmas’ refers to the 15-day Christmas/New Year holiday road crash reporting period, extending from 00:01 am

    on the Friday before 25 December to 11:59 pm on the Friday after 31 December.

    ‘Easter’ refers to the 5-day Easter holiday road crash reporting period, extending from 00:01 am on the Thursday before Good Friday to 11:59 pm on Easter Monday.

    CHARACTERISTICS OF FATAL ROAD CRASHES DURING NATIONAL HOLIDAY PERIODS v

  • In summary, Christmas holiday crashes tended to involve:

    • a greater proportion at rural locations

    • a greater proportion in high speed zones

    • a greater proportion of single vehicle crashes

    • a lower proportion of articulated trucks crashes

    • a greater proportion in early morning hours (3am to 5am).

    This analysis found no differences in the reported involvement of the primary causal factors of speed, alcohol or fatigue.

    The study also compared the characte

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