The relative contribution of system failures and extreme behaviour in South Australian crashes - preliminary findings
Within the road system, there are compliant road users who may make an error that leads to a crash, resulting in a „system failure‟, and there are also road users who deliberately take risks and display dangerous or „extreme‟ behaviours that lead to a crash. Crashes resulting from system failures can be addressed through improvements to road system design more readily than crashes resulting from extreme behaviours. Therefore, the classification of crash causation in terms of system failures or extreme behaviour is important for determining the extent to which improvements to the road system can be expected to reduce the number of crashes. This study examined the relative contribution of system failures and extreme behaviour in South Australian crashes as identified from information in Coroner‟s investigation files and databases of in-depth crash investigations conducted by CASR. The analysis of 83 fatal crashes, 272 non-fatal metropolitan injury crashes and 181 non-fatal rural crashes indicated that very few non-fatal crashes (3% metropolitan, 9% rural) involved extreme behaviour by road users and, even in fatal crashes, the majority (57%) were the result of system failures. This means that improvements to the road transport system can be expected to be much more effective in reducing crashes than concentrating on preventing extreme behaviours. Such a strategy could reduce the incidence and severity of a large proportion of crashes in South Australia.