An examination of the environmental, driver and vehicle factors associated with the serious and fatal crashes of older rural drivers

  • Published: Accident, Analysis and Prevention, 50, 768-775 (2013)
  • Authors: Thompson, J. P., Baldock, Mathias, M. R., J.L. & Wundersitz, L.N.
  • Date Added: 05 Apr 2016
  • Last Update: 05 Apr 2016
  • Format: html


Accidents involving drivers aged 75 and above are more than twice as likely to result in a serious or fatal injury. This study aimed to identify the environmental, vehicle and driver factors associated with older rural drivers’ crashes, as well as whether these factors were associated with an increased likelihood of serious or fatal injuries in younger drivers, for whom frailty does not contribute.


A database of police-reported road crashes in South Australia, the Traffic Accident Reporting System, was used to obtain crash, serious injury, and fatality data for 2004 to 2008. Background information about the crash and the driver were obtained (age, residential postcode, severity of injury), as well as a number of environmental factors.

Key Findings:

When comparing serious and fatal crashes involving rural and urban drivers, results showed that there was no significant difference in the impact of lighting, road and weather conditions. A number of other factors were found to have a significant impact on accident rates, with significant differences between rural and urban drivers. Rural drivers were found to be more likely to have accidents on:

  • undivided roads
  • unsealed roads
  • curved roads with open and obscured views
  • the slope or crest of a hill
  • roads with a 50, 80, 100 or 110km/h speed limit

They were also more likely to disobey a give way sign and fail to give way to the right, and to be hit by another vehicle at a right angle or a fixed object and experience roll over.

In addition, when compared with younger drivers these factors were found to have a much higher rate of causing serious or fatal injuries to older drivers.


Older drivers ,rural drivers, urban drivers, environmental factors, driver factors.