Comparing Serious Injury & Fatal Crashes (Ongoing)

Could there be significant differences in crashes where people die compared with those where people survive? 

Previous research suggests there could be (Wundersitz and Baldock, 2011).

The AA Research Foundation wants to better understand whether some circumstances and injuries from car crashes are more likely to lead to deaths rather than serious injuries.

It is known for example that rollover crashes, and crashes where stationary objects are hit, often result in more serious trauma.

However, generally there is limited information distinguishing between crashes that result in deaths, compared with those that lead to life-threatening injuries, compared with those where injuries are serious but not life-threatening (eg. fracture, concussion, severe cuts, etc., that still require hospitalisation).

This research could potentially identify initiatives that are more effective at reducing road trauma.

The focus will be less on causes of crashes and more on the nature of the injuries and better understanding the people, vehicles and environments involved.


Expert Steering Group

  • Simon Douglas - AA Research Foundation Manager
  • Dylan Thomsen - AA Research Foundation Advisor
  • Nils Van Lamoen - NZ Police
  • Alex Morrison - Ministry of Transport
  • Rachel McLean - Ministry of Transport
  • Stuart Ross - Accident Compensation Corporation
  • Kaye Clarke - NZ Transport Agency


Research Programme

Crashes are complex and the factors that influence injury severity are many and varied.  

There are known trends linking particular risk factors with crash types and outcomes, but more could be known. 

A range of organisations are combining their expertise to undertake this research, including Auckland University Public Health, Mackie Research and TERNZ (Transport Research NZ). 

The analysis will look at:

  • vehicle movements
  • number of vehicles involved
  • time of day and weather
  • objects struck
  • location (eg. intersection, rural, urban)
  • types of road users (eg. age, gender)
  • behaviours (eg. seatbelt, speed and alcohol use)
  • vehicle, road and environmental factors
  • nature of injuries sustained
Project 1: Analysis of fatal compared with serious injury crashes

This project will look at approximately 100 fatal crashes and 200 serious injury crashes that occurred between 2011-2015.  Data recorded by the Police, ACC, the Ministry of Transport and Otago University will be used.


Project 2: Analysis of injury type and severity

This project will analyse 10 years of hospital data to better understand the proportion of ‘very serious injuries’ and ‘less serious injuries’.


Project scoping document

Understanding circumstantial and injury differences between serious and fatal crashes

The research results are anticipated by mid 2017.


Serious injury and fatality statistics

  • In 2015, 319 people died in road crashes and 12,270 people were injured.
  • The Ministry of Transport estimates the social costs of deaths and injuries.  For 2015, the average social cost per fatality was estimated at $4.09 million per fatality, $760,000 per serious injury and $75,000 per minor injury (March 2016 prices).

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