Transport safety

The Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) has led accident and safety research for over 25 years.

Transport Safety

Director profile

Professor Mark Stevenson
Director, Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC)

"Most people perceive injuries or accidents as chance occurrences, but we know from scientific research that they have underlying causes and distributions like any other disease that can be studied and therefore prevented."

Road Safety Management Leadership Program 18-22 November 2013

Following the success of this course in 2012, MIRI will be offering advanced training in road safety management and leadership. Details on the Road Safety Management Leadership Program website.


You can benefit from our experience and leadership in the field of injury prevention.

Search our reports

Each year our staff produce reports on a broad range of topics across the spectrum of injury prevention.

Leading researchers

Professor Brian Fildes

Professor Max Cameron

Professor Ian Johnston

Professor Peter Vulcan

Assoc Prof Judith Charlton
Associate Director, Behavioural Safety Science
Graduate Studies Coordinator, MIRI

Dr Michael Fitzharris
Associate Director, Regulation and In-depth Crash Investigations

Assoc Prof Michael Lenne
Associate Director, Human Factors

Assoc Prof Stuart Newstead
Associate Director, Injury Analysis and Data

Dr Jennie Oxley
Associate Director, Regional Engagement

Tony Bliss
Global Road Safety Advisor

Monash University Accident Research Centre

The Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) was established in 1987 and is Australia's largest and most respected transport safety research centre. Our research, consultancy and training include safety across all modes of transport.

Since our founding we have developed research-based solutions that have led directly to making Australians safer - and have made us an acknowledged leader in the field. We are committed to the excellence of our research, the independence of our recommendations and the engagement we have with the communities we serve.

We have many clients both national and international, and have forged long-term relationships with a number of key stakeholders including VicRoads, the Transport Accident Commission, the Department of Justice, and Victoria Police.

Our work is conducted across six priority areas:

  • Behavioural safety science
  • Human factors
  • Injury analysis and data
  • Global engagement
  • Regulation and in-depth crash investigations
  • Safe system strategies and road infrastructure

We have also established an ongoing research partnership with Western Australia's Curtin University. The Curtin-Monash Accident Research Centre (C-MARC) is supported by the government of Western Australia. Our partnership ensures we provide research expertise specific to the states' needs.

The Big Impact

Click on the publication below to open in full screen

The Big Impact is MUARC's research newsletter showcasing our current research and publications.

You can download copies of the Big Impact in PDF format



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Monash University Accident Research Centre News

Professor Mark Stevenson to present keynote at Law Enforcement & Public Health Conference

Professor Stevenson presented a keynote address at the Law Enforcement & Public Health Conference in Melbourne in November 2012. The topic was 'The Road to Success: Road Policing and Public Health'.


Road traffic injuries are a significant public health problem. Injuries incurred across the road network are the leading cause of injury mortality and morbidity globally and by 2030, are predicted to be the 5th leading cause of mortality in the world. Australia has seen dramatic reduction in road deaths and serious injuries since the 1970’s and holds an international reputation for road traffic injury prevention due, in part, to its success in pioneering the multidisciplinary and inter-sectoral approach needed to address this significant issue and by applying an evidence-led approach to policy development. Australia’s early success in road traffic injury prevention (road safety), was achieved by implementing targeted programs that focused on road user behaviours. The most successful of these programs was the introduction of comprehensive seat belt laws, random breath testing and more recently, strategic speed enforcement programs. Considerable emphasis over the past decade has also been placed on a Safe Systems approach to road safety which continues to focus on the road users behaviour but importantly, focuses prevention efforts across the entire road system and therefore places renewed emphasis on the road infrastructure and the vehicles in order to minimise the likelihood of injury in the event of a crash and importantly, early post crash intervention.

In the Australian state of Victoria, the state’s ability to reduce road fatalities and serious injury has resulted in Victoria having “...roads and road users that are among the safest in the world”. Despite an array of successful prevention strategies that have contributed to the decline in road fatalities and serious injuries, there is no one action that can be attributed to the decline in road fatalities observed in Victoria since the 1970’s. Rather, the following elements have been integral to the success observed namely, i) the state’s road safety policies have been evidence-based, ii) there has always been extensive and effective collaboration between the government agencies, iii) a high-level of community engagement and iv) there have been high profile champions at key stages over the 4 decades. These elements clearly highlight the nexus between road policing and public health.

The presentation will illustrate the value of the road policing and public health partnership. It will then describe the currency of road policing and public health using a case-study from China in which road policing and public health achieved measureable road safety gains in a short timeframe. The presentation will conclude by discussing the significant challenges facing the transport system in the years ahead and the impact these will have on road policing and particularly public health. These challenges are not insurmountable and the presentation will conclude with the exciting opportunities evolving for road policing and public health from the application of information and communication technologies to the transport system.

MUARC 2012 Annual Lecture presentation

On 14 August, Dr Anne T. McCartt presented the 2012 MUARC Annual Lecture in Melbourne. Topics discussed included vehicle design, driver distraction, safer systems for roadways and crash avoidance technology including the challenges of determining the effectiveness of these systems.

Anne T. McCartt PhD, is Senior Vice President, Research, at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in Arlington, Virginia. Funded by US automobile insurance companies, the Institute is an independent, nonprofit, scientific and educational organization dedicated to reducing the losses, deaths, injuries, and property damage from highway crashes.

At the Institute, she oversees a multidisciplinary research staff whose work centers on finding ways to change driver behavior, improve roadway design, and make vehicles safer. She has authored more than 150 technical reports and scientific papers on such topics as alcohol-impaired driving, automated enforcement, distracted driving, young drivers, roundabouts, and occupant protection. She was president of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine and serves on expert committees and advisory boards of the Transportation Research Board and other safety organisations. Dr McCartt received a B.A. from Duke University and a doctorate in public administration and policy from the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, State University of New York at Albany.

A copy of her presentation is available for download in PDF format (5.05Mb).


Introducing a new road safety leadership initiative

MUARC in partnership with the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Automotive Safety Research and the Melbourne Business School launched an innovative Road Safety Management Leadership Program designed to develop and nurture the next generation of road safety leaders tasked with achieving improvements in road safety performance over the coming decades.

Through the program’s well-structured and intensive learning process, participants gained an in-depth understanding of:

  • the core elements of the road safety management system;
  • the scientific evidence base and technological innovations that underpin effective road safety interventions and related public policy challenges;
  • how to introduce effective change;
  • the personal qualities required to improve leadership capability; and
  • how to engage with and influence internal and external stakeholders to successfully address leadership challenges.

The inaugrial program was held in Melbourne in November 2012, with plans to take the program internationally in 2013. Further details can be found at the leadership program website.

On 7 June 2012, Professor Mark Stevenson presented to members of the Victorian Parliament on the topic of Road accident prevention - what is the future?



By way of introduction, Professor Stevenson describe MUARC and its research as follows:

The Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) has established an international reputation for road accident prevention research; research that ranges from developing strategic speed enforcement strategies through to in-depth crash investigation and the assessment of the crash worthiness of used cars. Importantly, the research emanating from the Centre has contributed to state, national and international legislative change with much of the research supporting the numerous government and non-government road safety initiatives. MUARC’s research has contributed to the decline in road deaths over the past 3 decades and continues to build Victoria’s reputation as a world leader in road safety. Building on the success of MUARC, we are looking to initiate a number of road safety solutions over the next 3-5 years and my presentation will outline a number of these solutions, solutions that will place Victoria at the forefront of road safety innovation.

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Latest research

Evaluation of Vehicle Side Airbag System Effectiveness

Side airbags were first introduced into vehicles around 1995 to help protect passenger car occupants from serious injury in struck side crashes. International studies have shown that side airbags are effective at reducing the risk of death in near side impacts. They can also provide benefit in other types of crashes, such as vehicle rollovers. However, serious injuries can still occur when side airbags deploy. The aims of this study were to quantify the effectiveness of side airbags in reducing the risk of death and injury for occupants involved in side impact crashes in Australasia using Police crash data alone; and to use detailed injury information linked to Police reported crash data to determine the effectiveness of side airbags in reducing the risk of death and injury for occupants involved in side impact crashes in Victoria.

It was found that the use of injury outcomes from Police crash data alone was inadequate for the evaluation of side airbag effectiveness. However Police reported crash data linked to higher resolution and validated injury data by body region available from injury compensation claims data produced much more stable analyses and more informative outcomes. In particular, combination airbags were associated with statistically significant reductions of 61% in the odds of death and injury to the head, neck, face and thorax in struck side crashes (with a 95% confidence interval of 27% to 79%). In comparison, torso-only protecting airbags appeared less effective with no statistically significant injury effects found. However there was some indication of an increase in the odds of death and injury to the thorax region associated with torso only side airbags requiring further investigation.

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