Recent years have seen the increased availability of a number of new driver-assist systems that have been proven to reduce crash risk. Furthermore, previous research has shown that young drivers are at a high risk of injury crash involvement and would possibly benefit from driver- assist systems. Three vehicle safety systems becoming commonly available and likely to provide young driver benefits were investigated: autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane keep assist / lane departure warning (LKAA/LDW) and electronic stability control (ESC).

Novice and experienced driver crash profiles were compared using crash data from five Australian jurisdictions over the crash years 2006 to 2017, and New Zealand over the crash years 2008 to 2018. The effectiveness of ESC, AEB and lane keeping systems were sourced from literature and used to estimate the crashes saved through current and 100% fitment. These savings were adjusted to reflect the relative effectiveness of each technology associated with driver experience which was estimated through generalized linear regression of the light vehicle set of crashed vehicles manufactured from 2013.

Based on literature sourced real-world effectiveness alone, a greater proportion of crashes were estimated to be saved for Australian young drivers than for experienced drivers under current fitment scenarios of ESC, AEB and LDW, with large savings when fitment was maximised. Overall, the estimated additional proportion of young driver injury crashes saved under 100% fitment was 14%, which is 75% higher than that for experienced drivers. Compared with effectiveness in the experienced driver crashes of the same type, AEB was found to be up to 60% more effective in young driver targeted crashes depending on the vehicle type, crash severity and crash type. This greater effectiveness of AEB for young drivers corresponded to a further 2% of injury crashes to be saved for this group. Given current fitment rates of the technologies studied in the New Zealand crashed vehicles of novice and non-novice light passenger vehicles, around 2% of recent injuries arising from non-novice crashes would be expected to have been prevented by the three technologies. A somewhat smaller proportion can have been expected to be prevented in young drivers’ crashes, around 1.7%. This is largely due to a higher prevalence of older vehicles driven by young drivers, which do not have the safety technologies fitted. The additional proportion of injuries preventable by 100% fitment for non-novice vehicles was estimated to be 24%, 18% and 16% for fatal, serious and minor injuries respectively. For young drivers, the equivalent estimates were 28%, 23% and 21%.

Although ESC, AEB and LKAA/LDW have clear safety benefits for all drivers, this report presents evidence of greater benefits for young drivers which supports policies that encourage uptake or mandate these technologies for young drivers.

To read the full report click here.