Research Papers

Older drivers in crashes - identifying the safest vehicles and occupant protection technologies

Filename Langford.pdf
Filesize 323 KB
Version 1
Date added June 6, 2010
Downloaded 1 time/fois
Category 2010 CMRSC XX Niagara
Tags Session 5A
Author/Auteur Jim Langford, Megan Bohensky, Sjaanie Koppel, David Taranto


Purpose: Older drivers are overly represented in serious injury and fatal crashes, a major factor being their physical frailty and hence increased vulnerability to injury. While in-vehicle safety technologies have proven benefits for drivers and passengers generally, their relevance to older drivers has received little attention. This presentation aims to: match older driver crash scenarios and injury outcomes with leading safety technologies; and assess the relevance of the international New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) safety ratings to older drivers’ protection needs.
Method: Data were from an Australian insurance claims database, for drivers 41-55 years (Controls) or 65 years and older (Cases)injured in crashes between 1 January 2000 to 31 December 2007. Crash circumstances were linked with drivers’ body regions injured to identify in- vehicle safety technologies with the highest potential for improved occupant protection. To test the relevance of NCAP assessments to older drivers, manufacturers’ websites and other data were used to determine whether cars with the highest safety ratings were equipped with those safety technologies pertinent to older drivers’ injury patterns.
Results: Most crashes involved a collision with another vehicle (70.0% Controls, 68.7% Cases). The main manoeuvres were: driving straight ahead (44.6% Controls, 42.8% Cases); and turning right (15.2% Controls, 17.6% Cases). The main initial point of impact was the front of vehicle (54.3% Controls, 50.3% Cases). The front of vehicle, the right front panel and driver’s door accounted for almost three-quarters of all drivers (71.3% Controls, 72.2% Cases). 30.9% of older drivers had injuries to the thorax compared to 18.5% of Controls. Conversely, 30.6% of Controls had neck injuries, compared to 12.1% of Cases. Considering prevailing crash scenarios and injury outcomes, effectiveness of technologies and numbers of affected drivers, these features were recommended as priorities for older drivers: crash avoidance - brake assist, active collision mitigation systems and electronic stability control; crashworthiness or occupant protection - frontal airbags, dual stage airbags, curtain airbags, thorax/head and thorax airbags, and seatbelt pre-tensioner/load limiters. Two of the three key crash avoidance technologies listed above had only a modest presence amongst vehicles with a top NCAP rating, the exception being brake assist which was a standard fitting in most vehicles. In contrast, the crashworthiness/occupant protection technologies except for dual stage airbags, were standard to most top NCAP vehicles.
Conclusions: The crash scenarios and injury patterns showed few meaningful differences between Controls and Cases, except for older drivers’ greater propensity to incur upper body injuries. Accordingly, it was concluded that any communication strategy alerting older drivers to vehicle safety features continue to stress vehicles with a five-star NCAP rating, containing as many as possible of the following safety features (and in broad area of priority): frontal airbags; seatbelt pre-tensioner/load limiters; curtain airbags; thorax/head and thorax airbags; dual stage airbags; electronic stability control and active collision mitigation systems. Given that the assessment procedures underlying the NCAP are standardised across participating countries, these conclusions can be generalized beyond the Australian context.

Jim Langford, Megan Bohensky, Sjaanie Koppel and David Taranto