Our experience at the Australasian Road Safety Conference (ARSC) 2017

20 October 2017

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From 10-12 October 2017, four of our Abley/Interpret team members attended the Australasian Road Safety Conference in Perth. Over 650 delegates from across Australia, New Zealand and further afield attended this three day event to learn about the latest advances and research across a breadth of road safety topics. 

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Our team (from left to right): Dale Harris, Haris Zia, Subodh Dhakal, Carl O'Neil

The conference kicked off with an Early Career Professionals event that Carl, Subodh and Dale attended. The afternoon event included three speakers describing their career paths and career tips, including how to build networks, find mentors and maintain your passion for the industry. In between speakers there was a speed networking event and a ‘design a crash barrier’ challenge using only straws and tapes. Unfortunately, the questionable design of our barrier failed to save our egg-car from crashing and resulting in catastrophic eggshell damage!

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The theme for the conference was “Expanding our Horizons” and this was apparent in the push for fresh proactive approaches to road safety across all the plenary sessions. Technology applications appeared throughout the presentations.

One example of this was Mhoria Donache’s demonstration of the NZ Police’s “On Duty” application that enables officers to check drivers and vehicles, issue infringements and report crashes in the field. The crash reporting application included an interactive mapping interface which allows officers to record crash scenes, including the locations of vehicles, road signs, debris and other evidence to support the crash report. Automated syncing of data reduces the need for data input and speeds up the process for issuing fines and reporting crashes.

Augmented reality and virtual reality applications are also increasingly being used to support driver training and road safety education. In the exhibition area, you could trial a virtual reality driving simulator using an Oculus Rift. Another presenter demonstrated a scenario-based augmented reality application that is being used to teach primary school children safe travel behaviours, including road and rail crossings, school zones, bus stop and rail platform safety.

It’s always interesting to stumble into sessions outside my realm of knowledge. In one session I learned that drivers travel much closer to cyclists where there is a marked cycle lane, compared to no cycle lane. In another session I learned that driving when “angry, sad or in a heightened emotional state” is riskier than driving while tired or using a mobile phone.

Being in Perth, many delegates took the opportunity to travel around the city and check out the local sights. For me , this involved a trip out the historic Fremantle Town Centre and hiring a bike to explore the city’s extensive cycleway network.

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