According to SAPOL (2017), there was 1,071 serious injury crashes and 128 fatal crashes in South Australia in 2004. Fast forward 12 years and these numbers have dramatically decreased, with 574 serious injury crashes and 77 fatal crashes in South Australia in 2016. Strategies such as the introduction of 50km an hour zones have helped to decrease these figures, but further innovation is still needed, with the South Australian government investing 5 million dollars towards further road safety improvements in 2015. Even after such financial investments, road accidents still cost the state government around 1 billion dollars per year, with the opportunity cost of these dollars being investment in state pensions, education and health. Keeping these figures in mind, an interesting question arises. How can the South Australian government further decrease these figures by taking advantage of recent advances in technology? How can the government leverage the power or crowd sourcing and big data to further decrease road crash fatalities and injury? Safe Route is one solution to this problem.
Safe Route offers a solution to drivers that not only want to optimise their driving route for speed and efficiency, but also safety. Utilising open source data from the South Australian Governments Department of Planning, Transport, and Infrastructure, Safe Route allows drivers to select driving routes that fit their selected safety profile. For example, users may choose between low, medium and higher risk routes before their journey is chosen. Once their route is selected, the users chosen route will no longer just be calculated as a function of speed and efficiency (as is the case with Google maps), but also as a function of safety. The application then plots optimal routes as defined by the user’s safety profile. Once the user is on route, Safe Route alerts drivers to road hazards and high-risk accident areas (such as black spots), giving drivers time to acknowledge and prepare for unforeseen events and risks. Think of Safe Route as your own driving co-pilot.
Our analysis shows three main customer segments for our application. Our first segment is young drivers between the age of 16 and 24. According to the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure, 11% of all drivers and motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes are young drivers between the age of 16 and 24, with this age group accounting for 14% of all license holders in South Australia.
Our second customer segment is cyclists, with 35 fatal road accidents reported in 2016 and 24 in 2017 (DPTI, 2017). This group faces disproportionate risks not experienced by those driving motorised vehicles due to their vulnerability and exposure on the roads. Therefore, having the option to optimise bicycle routes for safety over efficiency may be of importance to some cyclists, especially those riding in unfamiliar areas.
Finally, our third customer segment is that of elderly drivers. Between the years of 2009 and 2013, there were 18 road fatalities and 89 serious injuries of persons aged 70 or above, with persons over the age of 70 making up 12% of the population and accounting for 11% of serious casualties in South Australia. This demographic may benefit from both auditory alerts to road hazards and black spots as well as the ability to optimise their driving routes for safety.