Rear-end crash risk showcased in new report

ARRB Group analyses five years of data to understand how, where and why these common incidents occur


Heavy vehicles are involved with around 10 percent of all rear-end collisions on Australian roads, the ARRB Group has found.

Its investigation into the most common crash type in Australia highlights some of the factors involved in the incidence of rear-end collisions, as well as the severity of each event.

Importantly for trucking operators, it notes that the risks of rear end collisions does increase as more heavy vehicles populate a road, at least up until a point.

"Rear-end crash risk increases as the truck composition increases, until reaching a peak at about three per cent, the Investigation of Key Crash Types: Rear-end Crashes in Urban and Rural Environments report notes.

"Once truck composition reaches three per cent, the saturation is high enough that drivers begin to drive more cautiously, reducing the crash risk."

Heavy vehicles are naturally more often the striking vehicle in a rear-end collision (accounting for 7.9 per cent of all major incidents in urban areas, and 13.0 per cent in rural areas).

While the data, based on five years of reported crashes, does not show a significant risk in the severity of rear end collisions involving heavy vehicles, the ARRB does recommend greater use of vehicle underrun protection.

"When rear-end collisions occur between light and heavy vehicles, vehicle underrun can occur, increasing the severity of the collision," the report says.

"This is being addressed through the introduction of front underrun protection in the Australian Design Rules since 2011.

"However, rear underrun protection has yet to be similarly mandated."

The ARRB found that while more rear-end collisions occur in urban areas, those taking place on rural roads – often with higher speed limits – tend to be more severe.

It has suggested a number of mitigation strategies for road authorities, including road maintenance programs dedicated to improving road surfaces and visibility at intersections; replacement of red light cameras with combined red light and speed cameras; and increased yellow and all-red time windows for traffic lights.

The report can be found here.

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