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188 Lessons from tragedy: an in-depth medico-legal examination of fatal road transport crashes
  1. Marilyn Johnson1,2,
  2. Lyndal Bugeja1,3,4,
  3. Sjaan Koppel1
  1. 1Monash University, Australia
  2. 2Amy Gillett Foundation, Australia
  3. 3Coroners Court of Victoria, Australia
  4. 4Department of Forensic Medicine, Australia


Background Every death on the road impacts the family, friends and relatives of the deceased as well as those people who were involved or witnessed the crash. In addition, there is a substantial economic cost of human loss. In Australia, the cost of road deaths from 2000 to 2014 is estimated at A$458.4 million. Coronial investigations generate the most comprehensive reports of the circumstances of a fatality and while internationally coronial data has been successfully used to understand fatal road transport crashes, this data has not been used for this purpose in Australia.

Methods This study is the first Australian systematic review of coronial reports for all fatal road crashes. The data is from the Australian Capital Territory for the period from 2000 to 2014. The data will be examined to determine the frequency, nature and determinants of fatal injury involving transport across all modes (e.g. cars, trucks, bikes, walking, public transport) and to understand the contributing factors, patterns and trends.

Results In total, 191 fatal road crashes occurred in the period. Analysis of the data is underway and includes identifying patterns in the factors that contribute to these crashes including: road user types involved, impaired driving (i.e. detection of alcohol and drugs), speeding, lack of care and driver distraction, single vehicle crashes, rear end crashes and right angle crashes, and vulnerable road users particularly motorcyclists, cyclists and novice drivers. The analysis will also include a review of the coronial recommendations made and the implications for road safety.

Conclusions It is anticipated that the findings from this study will provide insights into how the road transport system can be improved to achieve safety outcomes for all road user types.

  • medico-legal examination
  • fatal road transport crashes
  • Australia

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