Tiger Woods’ car crash in the USA last February may have killed the golf champion had the incident occurred in Australia, according to a new report co-authored by the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB).
Authored by ARRB road safety expert Tia Gaffney and safety experts Professor Raphael Grzebieta and Dr George Rechnitzer, the report says Australia’s lack of a rollover roof strength standard for vehicles can be deadly. Calling for regulatory change, the report highlights the need for Australia to standardise rollover roof strength, mandate ‘black boxes’ for road vehicles, and establish a national crash investigation entity for vehicles.
According to the ARRB, US lobbying forced a change to regulations in 2012 which potentially had the effect of saving Woods’ life. In Australia, there are no rollover roof strength standards for vehicles, with the ARRB claiming some manufacturers “de-spec” vehicles in this area to save costs.
“We should be asking whether Tiger would be alive if he had rolled over in Australia – or whether the lack of a rollover roof strength rating would have resulted in a different and more sinister outcome,” the report says.
“We should be asking how long it would take our system – in the absence of EDR (event data recorder/black box) regulations – to identify contributing factors like travel speed. We should be asking how we are meant to make decisions which will drive road safety outcomes when our analysis of fatality crashes is lagging by as much as 18 months and injury crashes is lagging by as much as four years.”
According to the ARRB, Australia continues to miss “fundamental pieces of the puzzle” when much can be learned from systematic crash investigation.
“With 1200 dying and nearly 40,000 seriously injured on Australian roads each year, we need to do better,” the report added.