Road safety brains trust: NeuRA
We’re now in our second three-year partnership with Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA), an independent,
not-for-profit research institute conducting world-leading brain and nervous system research.
NeuRA conducts road-safety-related research at our Transurban Road Safety Centre in Sydney. This research explores interactions between people and their vehicles—for example, how parents and carers install and fit child restraints;
how child restraints perform in serious crashes when installed incorrectly; and how ‘comfort accessories’ such as seat cushions and seatbelt comforters may affect crash outcomes.
NeuRA’s research aims to inform policy, regulation and standards to improve the safety of all road users. It has already identified potential improvements for child seats, which the Australian Standards Committee is in the process of reviewing. NeuRA research into new protective equipment for motorcyclists may also help improve rider safety in the future.
NeuRA’s crash sled: a vital tool
A crash sled, capable of reaching speeds up to 64 km/h is a vital testing tool for NeuRA researchers. The sled has, so far, been used in testing impacts involving aged drivers and passengers, rear seat occupants, motorcyclists, child seats and restraints and motorcycle design. Tests also provide important data on the severity of road crashes.
50% wrong: child restraint fitting
This research built on previous NeuRA research identifying that more than 50% of child restraints are used incorrectly, often involving multiple errors. NeuRA also found close to 40% of child restraints are used in ways that would impair crash performance.
Researchers at NeuRA tested incorrectly used child restraints (focusing on the five most common errors)
to assess how these errors impact child restraint performance during a crash.
NeuRA’s test conditions included: each error, no error, convertible forward and rear-facing restraints, and a crash-test dummy representing a one-year-old child.
Child restraint errors tested included:
Loose seatbelt (securing the car seat in the vehicle)
Very loose harness (securing the child to the car seat)
Partial use of the harness (if a child has partially escaped from the restraint)
Loose top tether
Three minor errors combined (a twist in the securing belt, a harness twist and a loose harness)
NeuRA’s tests found all five errors had negative consequences—that is, all five errors contributed to the crash-test dummy being ‘injured’.
Incorrect use of forward-facing restraints increased the risk of head and chest injury in a simulated crash more than incorrect use of rear-facing restraints.
A loose harness had the greatest impact on the performance of child restraints during a simulated crash. All forms of child restraint misuse proved extremely problematic.
Getting it right
We surveyed Australians on their child restraint installation and found:
of people with a child seat in their vehicle had it professionally fitted
installed it themselves
Based on NeuRA’s and our own research, we’ve put together a webinar with key tips on fitting child seats safely.
Child restraint webinar
Learn more about the correct fitting of child restraints.
Not cushioning the blow: comfort accessories
This research tested how ‘comfort accessories’ (seat, back and neck pillows) affect injury severity during a crash.
The research sought to understand and identify solutions for reducing older (over 65 years) drivers’ increased risk of serious injuries.
People over the age of 65 are nine times more likely to be seriously injured during a car accident
Chest injuries are the primary cause of death for older drivers
Poorly positioned seatbelts increase the risk of chest injuries
About 25% of older drivers use a cushioning accessory
NeuRA researchers conducted more than 130 crash tests using various comfort accessories
NeuRA tests found comfort accessories that change the geometry of a seatbelt or the posture of a driver do increase the chance of a chest injury in a crash.
What you can do
If you use a comfort accessory, consider adjusting your seat, steering column and seat-belt D-loop positioning instead.
These are safer options than using a cushion accessory.
Thrust of the matter: pelvic damage in motorcyclists
Motorcyclists are some of the most vulnerable people on our roads—only 5% of all registered vehicles in Australia are
motorcycles, but motorcyclists make up nearly a quarter of all traffic-related hospitalisations. One in five hospitalised motorcyclists
has a pelvic injury, and 85% of these injuries resulted from direct contact with the motorcycle’s fuel tank.
NeuRA researchers designed and built a specialist crash-test sled to mimic different
rider sitting positions and travel speeds, before simulating a series of crashes.
The crash tests found that the design of motorcycle fuel tanks and the sitting position
of the rider is likely leading to serious pelvic injuries in front-on crashes.
NeuRA found greater attention to the design of fuel tanks could improve the safety of motorcyclists,
particularly on motorcycles where riders are more likely to take an upright position while riding.
NeuRA’s findings were presented to safety specialists and motorcycle manufacturers to help influence safer fuel tank design.
Compass IoT road safety research
Compass IoT is a road intelligence company that uses connected vehicle data to improve road safety, infrastructure, and city planning.
NorthConnex wider network benefits data
Compass IoT’s technology enables us to capture accurate and real-time data about near-misses on our roads and the wider road network to get a clear picture on road safety performance. We used Compass IoT’s cutting-edge technology to measure overall road network safety performance following the opening of NorthConnex in Sydney.
NorthConnex was built to move traffic (including more than 6,000 trucks a day) off the severely congested Pennant Hills Road.
Anonymous in-car GPS data
Compass IoT used data sourced directly—and anonymously—from in-car GPS systems
to identify hard braking and erratic steering events (or ‘near-misses’) on Pennant Hills Road.