Putting the brake on road deaths

UNSW's Injury Risk Management and Research Centre will invest close to a million dollars over the next three years to learn more about common driver errors.

Smartcar inside

UNSW's Injury Risk Management and Research Centre (IRMRC) has taken delivery of a unique research vehicle that could help reduce road fatalities caused by driver error and fatigue.

The first "instrumented vehicle" of its kind in NSW, the Subaru Liberty wagon is fitted with cameras, monitors and computer wizardry that can track and analyse every aspect of driver behaviour in real world driving conditions.

The $200,000 research fit-out includes "Smarteye" and "Optalert" systems that can detect and alert drivers to deadly "micro-sleeps" - brief, unintended periods of inattention that are linked to hundreds of road fatalities.

Researchers at the IRMRC will invest close to a million dollars over the next three years to learn more about common driver errors that claim the lives of drivers and road users.

"Australia's road toll is the lowest it has been since 1950 and NSW has one of the lowest fatality rates in the world," says UNSW Dean of Science, Professor Mike Archer. "But interventions such as better vehicle design, random breath testing and compulsory seat belt wearing mean that all the low-hanging fruit have been picked.

"Achieving significant new reductions in road trauma will require multidisciplinary teams of experts using sophisticated tools such as the Subaru instrumented vehicle in a real world environment," he said.

For more on this story visit Faculty of Science News.

Media Contacts: Dan Gaffney (UNSW) | d.gaffney@unsw.edu.au | 0411 156 015
Alicia Cannon (Subaru Australia) | 0414 397 905