Relationships Between Prior Driving Record, Driver Culpability, and Fatal Crash Involvement
Previous research from overseas has revealed consistent, yet limited, associations between prior driving records and subsequent crash involvement. Few of these studies have investigated relationships with driver culpability. Using South Australian data, this study aimed to examine relationships between prior crash and traffic offence history and driver culpability for fatal crashes. The identification of characteristics predictive of crashes from driver records may assist in identifying and developing countermeasures for such drivers before crashes occur.
Databases were matched to allow examination of the past driving records of 388 licensed drivers and riders involved in a multiple vehicle fatal crash in South Australia from 1999 to 2002. The crash and traffic offence history of each driver was tracked for five years prior to the fatal crash. The number and type of prior crashes and traffic offences for culpable and non-culpable drivers were compared to identify any differences related to driver culpability. Driver and fatal crash characteristics were also analysed by culpability status to determine whether different populations of drivers were involved.
Drivers culpable for a multiple vehicle fatal crash were more likely than non-culpable drivers to have been aged less than 25 years or over 75 years, to have consumed alcohol before the crash, and to have been killed in the crash. Culpable drivers appeared to be more likely to have had a prior drink driving offence than nonculpable drivers although few drivers actually had a prior drink driving offence. Prior crash involvement was not found to be associated with multiple vehicle fatal crash culpability.