Road Safety Technology

Saving lives on our roads

Our vision is for all NSW road users to have access to technology that significantly reduces their risk of being killed or injured on their journey. Our current research projects include:

  • connected vehicles
  • advanced driver assistance systems
  • artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • safety based smartphone applications
  • crash cam

Intelligent Speed Adaptation

Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA) helps drivers stick to the speed limit. The technology uses a global navigation satellite system such as GPS. These systems are linked to a speed zone database that allows the vehicle to 'know' its location and the speed limit on that road. The ISA system gives visual and audio feedback alerts to the driver if their vehicle exceeds the speed limit.

The NSW Government's free smartphone application, Speed Adviser, is a form of ISA. The app provides drivers with spoken and visual warnings when you exceed the speed limit and when a school zone is active.

The NSW ISA trial

In 2010, we trialled ISA technology with more than 100 vehicles from the Illawarra region, with a mix of private business fleets and driver volunteers. Each vehicle was fitted with a GPS data recorder to track their speed and location before, during and after the ISA technology was installed. The ISA system reduced speeding in 89% of trial vehicles. The median probability of speeding was also reduced by almost 30% when ISA was active.

Mathematical modelling of the trial data by The University of Adelaide’s Centre for Automotive Safety Research used mathematical modelling to analyse the trial data. It estimated that if advisory ISA technology was fitted to all cars, then serious and fatal crashes could be reduced by about 19% Australia wide. This represents about 200 lives per year.

Collision avoidance technology

Collision avoidance technology systems use multiple sensors to provide a driver with information about their immediate surroundings. These systems can sense other vehicles and road users, including pedestrians and bicycle riders, as well as objects near the vehicle. Audio and visual alerts help drivers to avoid potential crashes.

We trialled collision avoidance systems in the NSW state vehicle fleet in 2015. In this seven-month trial, we installed a camera-based collision warning system in 34 NSW government vehicles from three different agencies. Almost 200 different drivers controlled the vehicles over the trial period, with more than 360,000 kilometres travelled in both urban and rural areas.

Australian Naturalistic Driving Study

This project was done in partnership with University of New South Wales and Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC), along with other research organisations. The aim was to get a better understanding of what people do when driving their cars in normal and safety-critical situations.

The driving study included 360 volunteer drivers, with 180 from New South Wales and 180 from Victoria. During the study, private vehicles were equipped with a data collection system that silently recorded the participants’ driving behaviours over a period of four months.

The following papers have been published using data from the study:

Connected vehicles

Connected vehicle can ‘talk’ to each other as well as roadside devices such as traffic signals. Currently connected vehicles can share information using two systems.

Cellular Vehicle to Everything (C-V2X)

Connected vehicles using C-V2X use mobile data networks to share information with other vehicles and infrastructure. About 300,000 vehicles in Australia today are already sharing information using C-V2X technology. Information shared includes traffic delays, rapid braking, slippery road conditions and distances between vehicles travelling in the same direction (known as headway distance). In areas without mobile phone reception, C-V2X will not operate.

Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC)

DSRC technology uses a special radio frequency allocated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority for public safety information. In Australia, DSRC uses the 5.9 GHz band of the radio spectrum.

Vehicles using DSRC technology can ‘talk’ to each other over distances up to 1 km. DSRC technology can operate anywhere, even in areas where there's no mobile phone reception.

Drivers can be warned of risks on the road ahead, over the crests of hills or around bends. These systems may improve safety and reduce congestion.

Cooperative Intelligent Transport Initiative (CITI)

CITI is Australia’s first testing facility using connected vehicle technology. It's based in the Illawarra region of NSW and has trialled the technology in:

  • trucks
  • buses
  • cars
  • motorcycles
  • traffic signals
  • roadside units
  • railway level crossings.

Road Safety Incident Investigation Camera (ROSIICAM)

We are trialling new technology systems that assess when a near-miss or crash happens and record a short video of the incident.

In 2022, the initial proof of concept assessed how well the technology worked at two regional intersections. 

The technology was able to detect and classify vehicles, track their speeds, and record videos of near-misses.

In 2023, we are extending the trial to 8 varied locations to understand how the technology works in different settings, including:

  • highways
  • a roundabout
  • urban locations with high pedestrian traffic
  • merge lanes.

Road safety analysts can use the video footage to gain an in-depth understanding about the number and nature of incidents at a site.

The technology is designed to protect the privacy of all road users. Faces and vehicle registration plates are automatically blurred.

Detecting and predicting driver fatigue

Driver fatigue is one of the big 3 killers on NSW roads. We used the SAFET1 research vehicle to test driver monitoring systems, which measure how tired a driver might be, and predict their level of fatigue before a trip.

A driver’s level of tiredness can be monitored by using:

  • cameras to monitor a driver’s eyelids and head position
  • sensors built into the vehicle that can detect steering wheel movements and lane position
  • wearable devices such as smart glasses and intelligent headbands or caps.

Predicting levels of fatigue

A driver’s level of tiredness can be predicted by using a:

  • diary to record sleeping hours
  • wearable device like a smart watch or fitness band that measures movement or heartrate to understand the quality of sleep a driver has had before they start their trip
  • calculator like Test Your Tired Self - Driver-fatigue test for NSW drivers.


Highly Automated Vehicle Safety Initiative

The Highly Automated Vehicle Safety Initiative allows us to assess the merits and limitations of highly automated vehicles in NSW.

With level 2 automated features, our Volvo XC90 research vehicle is used as the test car to assess highly automated features.

Assessing the readiness of Sydney motorways for automated driving

In 2018, in partnership with Transurban, we conducted a large-scale trial to assess the readiness of the Sydney Orbital Network for semi-autonomous vehicles. This trial consisted of 12 connecting motorways forming a 113-kilometre loop around Sydney.

A report on the readiness of Sydney’s Orbital Motorway for more automated vehicles can be found on the Transurban website.

Assessing semi-automated driving in snowy conditions

In 2020, we completed a functionality assessment of SAFET1’s highly automated features when driving in snowy weather conditions. The research team conducted testing in the Snowy Mountains region, including the Thredbo, Perisher and Jindabyne areas. The highly automated features tested were:

  • lane keep assist (LKA)
  • adaptive cruise control (ACC)
  • pilot assist
  • traffic sign recognition (TSR)/automatic speed limiter.

For more information

New concepts

If you have an idea of a technological concept that may have potential to help improve road safety, please fill out our Assessment of Innovative Technologies application form to have your idea assessed by the Road Safety Technology team.