Crash Data Collection - Is it Time for a Rethink of the Process?
Fatigue is an insidious killer resulting in many fatal and serious injuries to vehicle occupants on road networks. Fatigue has on the whole has had disappointing combined stakeholder national strategic emphasis in New Zealand, but for many it continues to emerge as one of the key factors in road crashes. It is presented that the crash database significantly under represents the actual incident of fatigue crashes. On the positive side there has been many individuals or groups putting effort put into combating this issue throughout the country. What is lacking is a national strategy. The problem of driver fatigue is much bigger than a lot of people understand. Recent research (Oppenhuis, 2003; Smith, 2006) has presented that fatigue is greatly under reported as a causal factor in crash statistics. Accurate crash data is essential for the analysis and understanding of causal and contributing factors into road crashes. Without this key data the analysis of locations, causal factors and trends is unable to be accurately determined. The crash report system that is currently utilised in New Zealand has served us well. New Zealand has had a nation wide systematic process for data collection and analysis for a number of years. However, this process has been relatively unchanged and it seems that the time is right to review and update the system based on recent research. This particular research has demonstrated that additional data is now required for the identification of issues such as driver fatigue, among others. These issues present difficulties in data collection utilising the current forms. We have a moral obligation to the population of New Zealand to ensure accurate data s gathered. Improvements to the accurate reporting and analysis of driver fatigue will enhance awareness of the issues and assist in the recognition that a national strategy focused on fatigue is required with actions implemented through the application of the 3 E’s – Engineering, Education and Enforcement. More accurate coding of crashes will lead to better funding targeting.