Casual Factors in Road and Traffic Related Injuries
Driving is an important task and responsibility that teenagers take on when they receive their learners license, mainly at the age of 16. Each year, a great number of Australians lose their lives or are badly injured in road accidents. Sadly, young people are over-represented in road trauma statistics. Despite making up only 15% of drivers, young drivers represent around 36% of annual road fatalities. A 17 year old driver with a P1 license is four times more likely to be in a fatal crash than a driver over 26 years. Strict caution is to be taken from the second you step into a vehicle and get out, as there are countless amounts of factors that can create a dangerous and hazardous atmosphere and put the safety of the drivers and the passengers they are carrying in jeopardy. The consequences of this can result in accidents, fines and injuries, sometimes even fatality to both yourself and the passengers you are carrying. The major casual factors in road and traffic related injuries can be classified in 3 different parts, these being human, vehicle and road environment factors.
Human factors are the first and most influential factors to cause road and traffic related injuries. 95% of road accidents are caused by human error. They refer to the things people do or do not do. These can include speeding; drink driving or driving under the influence of drugs, amount of passengers being carried and if you or the passengers are wearing a seatbelt. 90-95% of accidents are caused by these human factors. The more specific categories are organized into speed, alcohol and fatigue.
Speeding has a major influence on the risk of being involved in a crash and on the severity of it. It gives you less time to react to the dangers that might be beyond your control, such as a problem with the road, another driver or a distraction and it will take you longer to stop. Yet it still remains the biggest killer on Australia’s roads for all drivers, though it mainly affects young drivers. In NSW speeding is a factor, which impacts 37% of road deaths. This means on average around 177 people die each year in speed related crashes in NSW. Around 80% of young drivers killed in speeding accidents are male.
Alcohol alters the normal function of your body and interferes with even the most experienced and skilled driver’s ability to drive safely. Alcohol has the ability to slow down your responses, reduces your ability to judge things, gives you false confidence, makes it harder for you to concentrate, affects your sense of balance and makes you sleepy. Just a few drinks can increase your Blood Alcohol Concentration, meaning it also increases your risk of being involved in a crash. At all levels of blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the risk of involvement in a motor vehicle crash is greater for teens than for older drivers. One third (approximately 23%) of all drink drivers in fatal crashes are aged 17-24 years, despite making up only about one seventh of all licensed drivers.
Driver fatigue can affect any driver but the risks increase as you are socialising late at night, drinking alcohol or taking other drugs or you are already sleep-deprived. You’re four times more likely to have a fatal fatigue crash if you’re driving between 10pm and dawn as your body’s circadian rhythms are programming you to sleep. Driving while sleep-deprived, increases your chances of ‘micro sleep’ and losing control of your vehicle. 16% of road accidents involving young drivers are caused by fatigue. Young people in their late teens and early twenties are particularly prone to partial sleep. Fatigue resulting from sleep deprivation results in poorer performance on cognitive tasks; especially those involving caution, fast reaction time, attention, cognitive processing, and memory. Its effects are strongest in those tasks that are repetitive, that have a long duration,...
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