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In Brief

Welcome to the April 2015 issue of AustroadsNews - we hope you enjoyed the Easter break. 

This edition AustroadsNews has an introduction to the NEVDIS database, a run-down on our latest publications, the latest World Road Association activities, and upcoming seminars and conferences.

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NEVDIS in a nutshell: an insight into the Austroads family

The National Exchange of Vehicle and Driver Information System (NEVDIS) is a large and powerful database that amalgamates vehicle and driver license information supplied by road agencies, vehicle wholesalers and police from across the country.

Its primary purpose is to prevent fraud and theft by ensuring that each vehicle can be identified by a unique identification number and that each person is only issued with one driver licence.

The system, administered by Austroads, is essential to road agencies, insurance companies, the automotive industry, and organisations that require proof of identity. 

NEVDIS enables:

  • registration of new cars, motorcycles, trucks or trailers
  • interstate transfers of vehicle and driver licences
  • confirmation of details on a drivers licence
  • verification of a vehicle’s status (if it is registered, encumbered, written off or stolen)
  • enforcement of interstate penalties.

Last year NEVDIS processed more than 100 million transactions. The NEVDIS team works tirelessly to maintain a high standard of service to stakeholders with a reliability uptime of 99.9% in 2014.

Current trends and figures suggest that NEVDIS is well on the path to process over 110 million transactions in 2015 with service levels at a continual high.

In the future NEVDIS will play a leading role in the modernisation of registration and licencing practices and in national security.

Improving Floodway Safety

Despite public campaigns warning drivers about the risk of crossing a flooded floodway, fatalities continue to occur.

Austroads has released research that indicates that the vast majority of designated floodways are not to the required design and hydraulic standards, have inappropriate signage, and depth gauges can provide misleading information. This can lead to drivers under-estimating the risk of crossing a flooded floodway.

The study found that:

  • Many of the approximately 20,000 floodways found mainly on low-volume roads across Australia and New Zealand, have not been constructed with appropriate geometric/drainage elements and many lack the signage required by Australian Standards.
  • Lack of reliable records on floodway incidents in the standard crash databases makes it impossible to determine the complete characteristics of incidents and the scope of the safety problem.
  • The lack of measures such as warning signs, water depth gauges and associated guideposts to delineate a flooded roadway places drivers at a greater risk in deciding when to cross. The research also indicates the need to not only rely on current static warning signs but to make greater use of active warning systems for drivers to make appropriate crossing decisions.
  • Public advice currently provided not to cross flooded roadways is not seen as realistic, practical or appropriate, hence the need for better measures to promote greater safety.
  • Depth gauges provided at floodways are of limited value and may mislead drivers in crossing a flooded roadway. A more appropriate indicator is one that is based on combined effect of water depth and flow velocity on vehicle type.

There are a number of new devices and technologies including automatic warning systems that could be applied to better inform motorists when not to cross a floodway. These devices can provide real-time information to alert drivers of floodway conditions by triggering flashing beacons, message signs and/or lowering of barriers when water depth and flow velocity reach pre-set values. They are, however, costly and are only suitable for critical sites and on high-volume roads.

Improving safety measures at floodways should include a management strategy that assesses risk, appropriate treatments, and the resources needed to bring about improvements over time.

First complete Australian road casualty dataset published

Austroads has released a report that documents the outcomes of the first year of a four-year project to establish crash rates for different road stereotypes across Australia’s state road networks and New Zealand’s national network.

The report aggregates all fatalities and serious injuries resulting from the different types of road crashes in Australia and New Zealand. This is the first time that analyses combine the entire casualty dataset for Australia.

Casualty crash data was supplied by each jurisdiction for the period 2001 to 2010.

The following results from this study represent significant insights into the current climate of road trauma and factors associated with casualty crashes in Australia and New Zealand:

  • road injuries of all severities have declined in both Australia and New Zealand since 2006
  • there are marked differences in some of the analyses when all casualty crash data (i.e. fatal, serious and other) are compared to fatal and serious casualty crash data (i.e. the key performance measures under the Safe System)
  • key crash types based on fatal and serious injury outcomes for Australia are off-path, head on, adjacent approaches, and same direction. For New Zealand key crash types are loss-of-control on curve, crossing/turning, loss-of-control on a straight, and rear end/obstruction
  • same direction/rear-end crashes result in a significant number of fatal and serious injuries, and this is worthy of further research
  • the largest number of fatal and serious injuries appear to occur on roads zoned at 60 km/h or 70 km/h in Australia (generally the urban arterial road network), while in New Zealand, the greatest number of fatalities and serious injuries occur on rural roads.
  • there is a peak in deaths and serious injuries for both Australia and New Zealand at 18 years of age; and for both countries, the severity outcomes (fatal and serious injury compared to other injury outcomes) appear to increase with age.

Subsequent stages of the project will involve benchmarking of crash performance between jurisdictions and with overseas jurisdictions where this is possible. Of particular interest is the safety performance of road infrastructure. To address this issue, information on traffic volumes and road configuration will be linked to the crash data. This will allow comparison of crash performance for different types of infrastructure which is likely to help individual jurisdictions identify areas for potential improvement. It is also likely to allow for more evidence-based decision making at the national level.

Better understanding rear-end crashes

Austroads has published the results of a research project which explores the contributory factors for rear‑end crashes, especially those leading to fatal and serious injuries.

The project considered urban and rural locations and sought to identify appropriate solutions, discussing both current and potential engineering treatments.

Factors found to be related to an increased incidence or severity of rear-end crashes include:

  • driver characteristics: distracted, younger, and male drivers have all been identified as at greater risk of being the striking driver in a rear-end crash. Older and female drivers are at greater risk of sustaining more serious injuries
  • vehicle factors: larger vehicles have an increased risk of both being struck and being the striking vehicle in a rear-end collision; collisions involving larger vehicles with passenger cars can be more severe due to vehicle incompatibility
  • road environment: rear-end crash risk is highest on highly trafficked, high-speed roads and at intersections, particularly when signalised and/or featuring poor horizontal and vertical alignment.

The project identified short-term measures that could be undertaken as part of a road maintenance program, or more substantial improvements to be undertaken as part of a capital works or road safety program.

Improvements to be undertaken as part of road maintenance included improved delineation and visibility at signalised intersections, and treatment of the road surface. More substantial improvements to be undertaken include targeted treatment of at-risk intersections, replacement of red-light cameras with combined red-light speed cameras, and improved turning provisions at intersections.

Rehabilitating drivers with alcohol dependence

Austroads has released a report that examines the effectiveness of national and international programs that treat and rehabilitate drivers with alcohol dependence and the criteria used to approve the removal of interlocks. 

The project recommends a stepped care model which requires all participants to attend education and screening and then requires participants who fail to change their behaviour to attend increasingly intensive rehabilitation programs. Failure to complete an interlock program could result in participants having their licence revoked.

The project was designed to inform action 36(d) of the National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020: Investigate the option of requiring demonstrated rehabilitation from alcohol dependence before removal of interlock conditions.

Modelling accelerated road deterioration

A new report from Austroads documents the development of interim road deterioration models in the rapid deterioration phase of pavement performance. The report includes models for rutting, roughness, cracking and other surface distresses.

The current Austroads road deterioration models only consider the gradual deterioration phase of pavement performance. This was based on the assumption that road agencies would intervene with works to avoid the subsequent accelerated, or rapid, deterioration phase. Recent climate aberrations, traffic changes, and limits of road expenditure have made this underlying assumption problematic.

The interim models, while based on a relatively limited data set, are expected to be a useful tool for the initial assessment and prediction of the road wear cost consequences of reduced maintenance on pavement conditions and increased axle mass loading. These road deterioration models can also be used to limit the number of high productivity freight vehicles on roads identified as being at risk of serious failure.

Harmonising road condition data management

A new report proposes a method that will allow Austroads member agencies to consistently report equivalent road condition data measurements.

The report summarises the current practices by member agencies to collect texture, cracking, strength and skid resistance data and includes a series of standard data output specifications that were developed after consultation with senior asset managers from each of the agencies.

Of all the pavement condition parameters discussed it is envisaged that skid resistance will require the most effort to harmonise.

Member agencies are now in a position to assess the feasibility of the harmonisation methods and data output specifications proposed and how to best implement them.

Harmonising requirements for pilots and escort drivers

In 2013 Austroads proposed a nationally harmonised pilot and escort vehicle driver accreditation scheme and operational guideline, published in the report Harmonisation of Pilot and Escort Vehicle Driver Requirements.

Austroads has now released a report that documents the process and results of industry consultation about the proposed scheme.

Industry consultation workshops were held in various jurisdictions to engage with the oversize transport industry and obtain a consensus on the final composition of the scheme including, most importantly, the nationally consistent training requirements that would form part of the accreditation process.

The consultation workshops focused on graduated pilot accreditation, agricultural exemptions, driver licencing and background checks, and traffic control powers and road rule exemptions.

The Project Reference Group came to the view that implementation will be best handled via the coordinated efforts of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and the National Transport Commission, with a decision to be made on whether the scheme will be centrally administered or decentralised with functions in the various jurisdictions.

Improving freight productivity

Austroads has finalised a review identifying potential issues that are limiting the uptake of the Performance Based Standards (PBS) Level 3 and 4 vehicles.

The review recommends retaining the existing national PBS framework and all performance standards, but argues that for some measures a re-calibration of test conditions and/or performance limits is required to meet the review objectives. The review also recommends using the PBS framework to facilitate access to Class 3 freight vehicles that fall outside the boundaries of the four PBS network access levels.

There is strong incentive to increase the use of PBS vehicles.

Austroads recently found that high productivity vehicles cause 63% fewer major accidents than their conventional counterparts and provide indirect community freight exposure benefits (less vehicle kilometres travelled, fewer trucks, reduced noise, emissions and accidents) conservatively estimated to be worth $12.6 billion in direct and indirect economic benefits by 2030.

Pedestrian Facility Selection Tool Webinar

An introductory webinar about the newly released Pedestrian Facility Selection Tool is now available on the Austroads website. The webinar  demonstrates how to use the tool with a fully worked example. 

International knowledge sharing: pavement technology

The Word Road Association is a leader in the exchange of knowledge about international road transport policy and practices.

The strategic work of the association is undertaken by 17 technical committees, 10 of which have Austroads supported members.

Michael Moffatt from ARRB Group represents Australia and New Zealand on the road pavements technical committee. By November the committee is expecting to publish reports on:

  • state of the art in monitoring road condition and road/vehicle interaction
  • expected service life of wearing courses
  • pavement recycling guidelines
  • carbon footprint of road pavements.

Read Michael's latest committee report.

International road transport policy responses to climate change

The latest report from the World Road Association provides a summary of international policies and strategies which aim to mitigate the impacts and adapt the road transport system to climate change.

Many governments are putting in place national legislative and policy frameworks to address climate change.

While transport is a key driver of the economy, it is also a significant and growing contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Recognising that more than 95% of transport emissions are from vehicular traffic, many climate change measures are based on the evidence that reducing the number of vehicles and increasing the efficiency of vehicles will reduce emissions.

Helen Murphy, VicRoads, was the report's English editor. Helen is the Austroads representative on the Association's technical committee on climate change and sustainability. 

Upcoming workshops and conferences

International Road Federation and Roads Australia Regional Conference 
"Innovating for the Future", 4-7 May 2015, Sydney, NSW

Australian ITS Summit and NeTC Tolling Conference
12-14 May 2015, Melbourne, Victoria

IPWEA International Public Works Conference
7-11 June 2015, Rotorua, New Zealand

Bikeable City Masterclass (in association with the Australian Walking and Cycling Conference)
26-30 June 2015, Copenhagen

Australian Walking and Cycling Conference
20-21 July 2015, Adelaide, South Australia

Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress 2015 Abstracts Now Open
13-16 September 2015, Brisbane, Queensland

AAPA International Flexible Pavements Conference
13-16 September 2015, Gold Coast, Queensland

Australasian Road Safety Conference Abstracts Now Open
14-16 October 2015, Gold Coast, Queensland

XXVth World Road Congress
2-6 November 2015, Seoul, Korea

4th International Conference on Driver Distraction and Inattention Abstracts Now Open
9-11 November 2015, Sydney, Australia

Sixth International Conference on Traffic and Transport Psychology
2-5 August 2016, Brisbane, Queensland 

23rd ITS World Congress Melbourne 2016
10-14 October 2016, Melbourne Victoria