• Activity
  • Roads, Vehicles & Traffic

What causes a road crash

Learning areas:
  • English
  • Health & Physical Education
Year levels:
  • Year 5
  • Year 6

Have students explore the Towards Zero website www.towardszero.vic.gov.au to find out about the factors that can contribute to a road crash (people, vehicles, roads, speed).

Using the crash scenario below, students adopt the roles of crash investigators to analyse contributing factors in the crash.

Jason was riding his bicycle down to the local swimming pool with some of his friends. He wasn’t wearing a helmet and knew that his front brake wasn’t working as well as it could, but he had kept forgetting to get it fixed. To get to the pool they could either ride along quiet back streets or take a short cut and ride through the busy Main Street shopping centre. They took the shortcut and rode along Main Street. Jason had been left behind by his friends and was pedalling hard to catch up when a car suddenly pulled out from a parking spot in front of him. He tried to brake, but couldn’t stop in time. He crashed into the car and was thrown heavily onto the road. He received head injuries, a broken arm and cuts.

Using the table below students should consider the factors involved before and during the crash and what could have been done differently to avoid the crash.





Before the crash?


During the crash?


What could be done differently to avoid the crash?


Discussion questions

  • Which factors were involved before and during the crash?
  • What could be done differently so that a similar crash doesn’t occur again in the future?
  • Which factors can we do something about to reduce road trauma?
  • What effect/impact might a crash have on the victim(s), person at fault, family, observer(s) and others who knew the killed, seriously injured or injured of the crash?

Information for teachers

When road crashes are investigated, in the majority of cases it is the combination of a number of factors that have caused the crash. It is suggested that in about 95 per cent of motor vehicle crashes human factors alone, or in combination with one or more other factors, are the major contributors.

Factors that can contribute to a road crash:

  • Human factors – the behaviour of the people involved – such as: deliberate risk taking; distraction (mobile phones, music, friends); tiredness (resulting in poor concentration); driving while affected by alcohol or drugs; lateness (resulting in speeding); disregard for road rules; choosing the unsafe option (such as a pedestrian crossing between moving vehicles)
  • Vehicle factors – features of the vehicle involved – such as poorly maintained vehicle; lack of modern safety features (such as lane assist, brake assist, electronic stability control (ESC), ABS brakes)
  • Environmental factors – features of the road and surrounding area – such as the surface and condition of the road, and the roadside; poor visibility as a result of heavy rain or bright sunshine; wet roads needing people to travel slower so they have more time to come to a stop; speed limits that make pedestrians and cyclists more vulnerable.

Victorian curriculum

Health and PE

Level 5 & 6

Investigate community resources and strategies to seek help about health, safety and wellbeing (VCHPEP107)

Investigate the role of preventive health in promoting and maintaining health, safety and wellbeing for individuals and their communities (VCHPEP112)