Naturalistic Driving Study

A TARS team led by Professors Regan, Grzebieta and Williamson, together with co-Chief Investigators Professors Watson, Haworth, and Rakatonirainy from CARRSQ in Brisbane, Professor Stevenson, Associate Professor Judith Charlton and Dr. Lenne from MUARC in Melbourne, and Dr. Wooley from CASR in Adelaide, recently won a $1.3 million major ARC LIEF Infrastructure Grant to build an Integrated Facility for carrying out a ground breaking Naturalistic Driver Study (NDS). Joining the team will be Partner Investigators from the Transport Accident commission, NSW Centre for Road Safety from Transport for NSW, Office of Road Safety from Main Roads Western Australia, and the Motor Accidents Commission of SA. Drivers will be observed within and around their vehicles using the so-called Naturalistic Driving Study (NDS) research method. The NDS team will be instrumenting around 400 cars in Sydney and Melbourne to continuously record data from within and outside the vehicles on driver and road user behaviour, in normal and safety-critical situations. They will then analyse this data to develop new and novel countermeasures for reducing road deaths and serious injuries on Australian roads. This is the first study of this magnitude and sophistication being carried out in Australia.

The Integrated Facility will underpin all future road safety research and become an essential pillar for the entire Australian road safety research community and regulatory authorities. The team of CIs assembled to manage and utilise this Integrated Facility comprises the most eminent group of researchers in road safety in Australia. It is expected that road safety policies and trauma mitigation strategies resulting from research outcomes using the facility, will likely yield fatality and serious injury reductions in the order of around 20-30% over the next decade, saving many hundreds of lives as well as eliminating many thousands of life- threatening serious injuries. The cost savings will be at least in the order of tens of billions of dollars if not more. In Australia, around 1400 people die and 33,000 are seriously injured on average each year on our roads. The estimated annual cost of road trauma to the Australian community is $AUD 27 billion, being equal to Australia’s annual Defence Force budget and around half the education budget.