Why do people die in road crashes?

July 2016

Photo: Ministry of Transport.

TERNZ and Mackie Research have recently completed a study for the Ministry of Transport into the factors contributing to why people die in road crashes. The focus of this study was not on why the crash occurred but rather on why the outcome was a fatality. The findings of this research have in part informed Safer Journeys, Government’s road safety strategy to 2020.

The analysis considered 120 road fatalities which were primarily selected from those which occurred in 2014. These consisted of 70 open road fatalities and 30 urban fatalities involving trucks and/or cars and 20 involving motorcycles. Pedestrian and cyclist fatalities were not considered in this study.

The vast majority of fatalities involved an impact with some other object.  Nearly half of the impacts were with another moving vehicle.  About 30% of fatalities would have or possibly could have been avoided if the victim had been wearing a seatbelt or a crash helmet (for the motorcycle crashes). A further 23% of fatalities would have or possibly could have been avoided if the victims’ vehicles had been fitted with the safety mitigation technologies that are readily available on current new vehicles. This latter finding is reinforced by the fact that the victims’ vehicles were, on average, significantly older than the vehicles that they impacted which implies that the survival rate in the newer vehicles is significantly higher.

The full report is available from the Ministry of Transport web-site. http://www.transport.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/Research/Documents/TERNZ-Report-Why-people-die-in-crashes.pdf

For more about TERNZ please see: http://www.ternz.co.nz/
For more about the Ministry of Transport please see: http://www.transport.govt.nz/