Adelaidean - News from the University of Adelaide The University of Adelaide Australia
October 2010 Issue
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Young researchers have road safety impact

 Automotive Safety

Young researchers at the University's Centre for Automotive Safety Research (CASR) have won acclaim at Australia's premier road safety conference.

CASR Automotive Engineer Sam Doecke won the award for best research paper comparing the merits of roadside clear zones with roadside barrier protection, and PhD student James Thompson was awarded the best paper by a new researcher. His paper presented the results of a study on older drivers, both rural and urban, and the likelihood that crashes they are involved in result in serious or fatal injuries.

The awards were made at the annual Road Safety Research, Policing and Education Conference in Canberra. It is the second year in a row that CASR has won both awards and the third year it has won the best research paper award.

CASR Director Mary Lydon said CASR played an important role in Australian road safety and had a national and international reputation for high-quality research.

"The work done by CASR on the relationship between speed and risk provided the impetus for speed limit changes around Australia and is still widely quoted by organisations around the world," Professor Lydon said.

"The CASR program of at-scene crash investigations is still the only program of its type in Australia and has provided data for a wide range of research projects including the work on roadside design which won the best paper award."

Sam Doecke is an automotive engineer who graduated from the University of Adelaide in 2006 and has since been working at CASR. He is involved with CASR's in-depth crash investigations and various research projects focusing on safer vehicles, roads and roadsides. His particular expertise lies in crash reconstruction and simulation.

His paper, Effective use of clear zones and barriers in a Safe System's context with Jeremy Woolley, re-examines the use of clear zones as the preferred rural roadside safety measure protecting against fixed object crashes, as compared to barriers.

Mr Doecke simulated single vehicle crashes using advanced computer techniques and found that adequate clear zones to ensure low impact speeds weren't possible in most situations and that barriers provide a viable alternative.

James Thompson is a PhD student focusing on comparing the different mobility and safety issues that face older drivers in rural and urban areas. He hopes that his research will help older drivers reduce their exposure to risk when they drive, but at the same time help them to maintain their mobility for as long as possible.

His paper, Older drivers in rural and urban areas: Comparisons of crash, serious injury, and fatality rates with supervisors Matthew Baldock, Jane Mathias and Lisa Wundersitz, found older drivers had fewer crashes but those were more likely to be serious.

Story by Robyn Mills

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Award-winning road safety researchers: Sam Doecke (left) and James Thompson
Photo by Robyn Mills

Award-winning road safety researchers: Sam Doecke (left) and James Thompson
Photo by Robyn Mills

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