NRMA Policy Team

About NRMA Policy Team

The Government Relations and Public Policy Team carries out most of NRMA’s advocacy work to improve issues affecting motorists, such as safer roads, safer drivers, safer vehicles, transport economics and sustainable transport. The team also supports the NRMA Board in lobbying governments and organisations on behalf of our Members.

Crash risk and the colour of your car

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The notion that there is a relationship between car colour and crash risk may initially sound ridiculous, equivalent to the belief that red cars go faster.

Nor is it likely that many people in the market for a new car would have ‘colour’ amongst airbags and electronic stability programs on their list of desired safety features.

Yet when light conditions are taken into consideration, there is a clear statistical relationship between a vehicle’s colour and its crash risk, as detailed in a report by Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) in 2007. Compared to white, colours such as black, blue, grey and others ranking lower on the visibility index were associated with higher crash risk in daylight hours.

MUARC’s research remains the most up to date research on this topic. It suggests crash severity is linked to vehicle colour, with “low visibility colours having higher risks of more severe crashes.”

Previous studies

A study in Epidemiology from 2002 found white and yellow cars had a slightly lower risk of being passively involved in a crash. This was followed by a study published in BMJ (British Medical Journal) in 2003 concluding that silver cars were 50% less likely than white cars to be involved in a crash resulting in serious injury. The association between silver and reduced risk continued even when confounding factors were adjusted.

Both these studies, according to MUARC, were inconclusive. These two studies, as well as prior ones, left the role of colour in influencing crash risk as being uncertain, prompting MUARC to undertake a more in-depth study.

The MUARC study

NRMA vehicle specialist Jack Haley said the MUARC study remains arguably the most comprehensive to probe the link between vehicle colour and crash risk.

“Previous international studies have examined vehicle visibility and colour but have not fully taken into account other factors that may have an impact on crash risk, such as driver demographics,” Mr Haley said.

Using crash data from Victoria and Western Australia, MUARC used the colour classifications black, blue, brown cream, fawn, gold, green, grey, maroon, white mauve, orange, pink, purple, red, silver and yellow, with all variables considered under the nearest category. Also included in the study were conditions such as light at the time of the crash, vehicle type, crash severity and state. Commercial vehicles and taxis were excluded.

Results

The result compared white vehicles with all other coloured vehicles. MUARC’s research showed there were a number of colours related to high risk, including:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Grey
  • Green
  • Red
  • Silver

None of the colours tested were statistically safer than white, though some had equal relative crash risk.

The association between colour and crash risk was highest during daylight hours, the risk associated with the above colours during this period up by 10%. The link was reduced during darker driving hours due to colour being less distinguishable and headlights further reducing colour’s effects. Results also showed that environmental factors had an impact on the relationship between colour and crash risk.

Of the study, Dr Soames Job of the RTA’s NSW Centre for Road Safety said the results were useful but other factors were more influential on crash risk and for drivers to be aware of this.

“Driving a darker coloured car can increase your crash risk,” Dr Job said, “but that is nowhere near as influential a factor as your driving behaviour. By driving within the speed limit, not driving after drinking and avoiding driving when tired, you increase your safety on the road.”

Is colour something you’ve taken into consideration when buying a car? Are there any colours you have difficulty seeing in certain conditions?

BLOG first published in 2007 – updated  23/6/15

Reviewing the facts about side mirrors

REFLECTION: While most modern vehicles now come standard with convex side mirrors, according to the Australian Design Rules (ADRs) side mirrors can be also be flat.

REFLECTION: While most modern vehicles now come standard with convex side mirrors, according to the Australian Design Rules (ADRs) side mirrors can be also be flat.

In recent weeks, NRMA’s magazine Open Road has received hundreds of emails about convex side mirrors, with some readers questioning whether they pose a safety risk because they make it difficult for a driver to judge the distance of traffic approaching from the rear.

The benefit of a convex side mirror is that the shape acts like a wide-angle lens, reducing a driver’s blind spot and thereby lessening the risk of a collision while changing lanes.

“There is a strong argument that the first priority in rear-view mirror design is to enable the driver to sight a vehicle to the rear, rather than judge its distance accurately,” says a spokesperson from the NSW Government’s Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

“Drivers also need to be aware that while a rear-view mirror assists in overall road awareness, a look over the shoulder is still essential to ensure safe manoeuvring.”

While most modern vehicles now come standard with convex side mirrors, according to the Australian Design Rules (ADRs) side mirrors can be also be flat. In fact, a convex mirror can be replaced legally with a flat mirror, provided the mirror conforms to design rules and its reflective surface is made of shatter-proof material or safety glass.

Side-mirror-diagram

The reflective surface of a driver’s side mirror must be at least 120mm x 200mm. Australian Design Rule 14/02 requires a driver’s side rear-view mirror to provide a field of view (as shown in the diagram below) of the road to the side and rear of the vehicle.

The ADRs specify that the driver’s side can have either a flat reflective surface or a convex reflective surface with a radius of curvature that is at least 1200mm.

The Road Users’ Handbook states that “before you change lanes, give your signal in plenty of time, check your mirrors and look over your shoulder for other vehicles”. The head check is necessary to ensure it is safe to change lanes – drivers should not depend on their mirrors alone.

What is your opinion on convex mirrors? Do you like or dislike?

Convex mirrors on cars

Double the high and still getting off

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Alarming drug driving statistics released last week by the NSW Police highlights the need to crack down hard on people caught driving high.

According to NSW Police, since January 1, random drug-testing operations have seen 29,500 drivers tested and 1,160 return positive results for drugs in their system, compared to 729 drivers out of 34,280 in 2013.

More than one-in-10 (11%) NSW road fatalities involved a motorist or motorcyclist who had illicit drugs in their system. Forty per cent of drug driving offences and fatal crashes involved a driver under the age of 30.

Analysis undertaken by NRMA earlier this year, showed that almost one-in-three drivers (488) convicted of a first offence for drug driving in NSW from 2010 to 2012 walked free after receiving a Section 10, were convicted without penalty, or had no conviction recorded.

NRMA President Kyle Loades said the number of people caught driving with drugs in their system had doubled and it was clear that some drivers were not getting the message that this type of anti-social behaviour was not on.

“The vast majority of drivers appreciate how stupid and dangerous this behaviour is, now magistrates need to do their job and get these offenders off our roads,” Mr Loades said.

“NRMA welcomes the announcement of the package of measures to combat drug driving,” Mr Loades said.

“The party season is just around the corner and it is critical that these measures are implemented as soon as possible.

“NRMA will work with the NSW Government to develop and communicate this important message.”

“NSW Police is doing a great job but it cannot do this alone, all arms of the NSW Government need to work together if we are to tackle this growing threat.”

“No one wants to share the road with a drug driver,” Mr Loades said.

Does drug driving on our roads concern you? How should the police crack down on this behavior?

$1.28 helps NSW take out petrol State of Origin: NRMA/RACQ

STATE v STATE: The NRMA and RACQ have conducted the state versus state analysis for the first time to highlight the discrepancies in petrol prices across states.

STATE v STATE: The NRMA and RACQ have conducted the state versus state analysis for the first time to highlight the discrepancies in petrol prices across states.

The inaugural state versus state petrol analysis for 2014 conducted by the National Roads & Motorists’ Association and RACQ has revealed that NSW had the cheapest petrol price for the year, with a low of 127.9 cents per litre for regular unleaded fuel recorded in Sydney.

In true State of Origin fashion, the contest was extremely tight, with Queensland’s cheapest price for the year recorded at 128.9 cents per litre in Brisbane.

The average price in NSW for regular unleaded fuel for the period from 1 January 2014 to 16 November 2014 was 147.7 cents per litre. By contrast, QLD’s average was 151.6 cents per litre. Alarmingly, Queensland’s highest average price of 165.5 cents per litre broke the record, exceeding the previous record in 2008.

The NRMA and RACQ have conducted the state versus state analysis for the first time to highlight the discrepancies in petrol prices across states. As families prepare to travel for the summer holidays, it is hoped the data will add insight into petrol price movements and give information to motorists before filling up.

The state versus state analysis found:

  • The cheapest centre in QLD for average prices was the Sunshine Coast 149.3 cents per litre
  • The cheapest centre in NSW was Sydney: 148.1 cents per litre
  • The most expensive centre in QLD was Weipa: 178.8 cents per litre
  • The most expensive in NSW was Tumut:  164.2 cents per litre

NRMA President Kyle Loades said the NRMA/RACQ analysis would hopefully shed some light on petrol prices in the two states.

“This is the first time our two clubs have conducted this sort of research and it is about helping to give our Members in both states more information about their local petrol prices,” Mr Loades said.

“NSW had to wait nine years to reclaim the State of Origin, however with more independents south of the border we are not surprised that NSW petrol prices are slightly lower. Regardless of which state you live in, the presence of independents means more competition and lower prices.”

RACQ spokesperson Renee Smith said fluctuating petrol prices in both states meant it was more important than ever for motorists to shop around.

“Support those service stations keeping their prices down, and if you live in Sydney or Brisbane where what you pay is impacted by the petrol price cycle, purchase at the bottom of the cycle when fuel is cheapest,” Ms Smith said.

“While NSW may’ve taken out the battle at the bowser this year, we hope strong competition in parts of QLD such as the Sunshine Coast gets us over the line in 2015.”

Casualties plummet on upgraded Princes Highway

The NRMA's latest review of the Princes Highway, covering almost 430 kilometres from Dapto to the Victorian border, tells "a tale of two roads".

The NRMA’s latest review of the Princes Highway, covering almost 430 kilometres from Dapto to the Victorian border, tells “a tale of two roads”.

Injury crashes have plummeted by as much as 90 per cent as a result of upgrades to the Princes Highway to the north of Jervis Bay, according to the National Roads & Motorists’ Association’s latest review of the Princes Highway.

The NRMA review compared the most recent five year data provided by the NSW Centre for Road Safety with the previous five years data. It assessed 428 km of the Highway from Dapto to the NSW/Victorian border. It tells a tale of two roads, with almost 300 km of the Highway south of Jervis Bay Road classed as high risk, compared with just over 30 km in the northern section.

It also reveals the huge benefits from investing in safer roads, with injury crashes plummeting by as much as 90 per cent as a result of recent Highway upgrades.

The review found that re-routing and upgrading the Highway to a dual lane divided carriageway between Oak Flats and Kiama slashed injury crashes by 48 over the five year period to 2012.

In contrast, there are 16 sections of the Highway to the south of Jervis Bay Road that continue to be rated a high risk for motorists. Together these 16 sections resulted in 523 injury crashes and 22 fatal crashes in the same period.

Key findings of the audit include:

  • From 2008-2012 there were 1,014 casualty crashes resulting in 45 deaths and 1,401 injuries (2003-2007 there were 1,015 casualty crashes, 64 deaths; 1,441 injuries);
  • Three-quarters (75%) of all injury crashes occurred on undivided sections of the Highway, rising to almost 90 per cent (89%) in rural sections
  • Upgrades to the Highway mean that nearly one-fifth (18%) of the Highway is now rated by the Australian Roads Assessment Program (AusRAP) as low or medium-low risk, almost double the amount from the previous five years (9%)
  • The proportion of the Highway that is now classed as high risk has increased to 77% (64% 2003-2007) reflecting an increase in traffic and risk on those sections that have still not been upgraded
  • The cost of injury crashes on the Princes Highway through lost productivity and the provision of emergency, health and welfare services has fallen to $483 million (2003-07: $610 million).

NRMA local Director Alan Evans said the Princes Highway Audit painted a clear contrast of the broad benefits achieved when Government invested in the road network.

“Sections of the Princes Highway that have been upgraded have seen a dramatic fall in fatalities and injuries and reduced congestion – as well as delivering economic benefits to local businesses,” Mr Evans said.

“The fact that injury crashes fell by almost 90 per cent along certain upgraded sections highlights the enormous benefits that can be achieved when we invest in fixing dangerous roads.

“By contrast, sections of the Highway – particularly south of Jervis Bay – that haven’t been upgraded continue to claim innocent lives at an alarming rate.”

The NRMA review identifies a possible staged approach to the Albion Park Bypass that would help to keep people moving in the short term before the full bypass is constructed.

It also suggests ways to improve the approach to the North Kiama exit ramp, which would reduce confusion for motorists and reduce the risk of rear-end collisions and traffic congestion.

The audit also revealed that while traffic volumes south of Jervis Bay may not justify the complete upgrade to dual lane divided carriageway, two-by-one lane upgrades divided by crash barriers and greater use of wire rope crash barriers would considerably reduce crash rates and save lives.

“This report provides the Government with clear measures to build on the good work undertaken in recent years to make the Princes Highway safer, less congested and a better asset for local communities and businesses along the South Coast,” Mr Evans said.

“The Pacific Highway has taken too long to upgrade and as a result too many lives have been lost – we don’t want to repeat these mistakes with the Princes Highway.”

Do you agree that the upgraded sections of the Princes Highway are safer to drive on?