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The number of Australians seriously injured in road traffic crashes each year increased from 26,700 to 32,500 between 2000-01 and 2007-08, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Trends in serious injury due to land transport accidents, Australia 2000-01 to 2007-08, presents findings on the number and rate of people seriously enough injured to be admitted to hospital for at least one night, but not dying.

‘Although there has been a distinct downward trend in the number of road deaths over this 8-year period, the rates of people seriously injured in a road traffic crash rose by an average of 1.7% each year,’ said Professor James Harrison of the AIHW’s National Injury Surveillance Unit.

‘In 2000–01 the age-standardised rate for people seriously injured in road traffic crashes was 138 per 100,000 population, but by 2008 it was 153 per 100,000.’

Over one-quarter (28%) of people seriously injured in road traffic crashes sustained life-threatening injuries.

‘Motor vehicle drivers, motorcyclists and pedal cyclists all recorded significant increases in life-threatening injuries over the period,’ Professor Harrison said.

‘The increases were greatest for motorcyclists and pedal cyclists, at 7.4% and 7.5% respectively.’

For men aged 45 to 64 years, the combined total of life-threatening injuries due to motorcycle and pedal cycle crashes (as a percentage of all life-threatening injuries due to road traffic crashes) rose from almost 30% in 2000–01 to 50% in 2007–08.

Unlike for motor vehicle drivers, there were no significant changes in life-threatening injury rates for passengers of motor vehicles and occupants of motor vehicles overall, while pedestrians recorded a slight decrease.

Men aged 15 to 24 years had the highest age-specific rates of life-threatening injury, while for women this rate was also highest for those aged 15 to 24 years, as well as for women aged 65 years and over.

All jurisdictions except Victoria and the Northern Territory experienced significant increases in age-standardised rates of serious injury over the 8-year period.

Canberra, 1 April 2011

Further information: Professor James Harrison, AIHW, tel. (08) 8201 7602 

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer 02 6244 1032

Full report: Trends in serious injury due to land transport accidents, Australia 2000-01 to 2007-08