The risk of serious injury, based on distance travelled, is more than 10 times greater for people travelling by car compared with those travelling by rail, according to a new report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) and the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government.
The report, Serious injury due to transport accidents involving a railway train, Australia, 2001-02 to 2005-06, showed that just one rail user was seriously injured per 100 million passenger kilometres travelled in 2005-06. Ten car occupants were seriously injured in crashes on a public road per 100 million vehicle kilometres travelled in the same year.
Jesia Berry of the Institute's National Injury Surveillance Unit said, 'There was an average of 190 persons seriously injured and 1,600 bed days per year due to transport accidents involving a train. Many more car occupants were seriously injured in crashes on public roads. About 16,000 car occupants were seriously injured per year, contributing 80,000 bed days.'
Most of the hospitalisations due to a transport accident involving a train were in three states: New South Wales (37%), Victoria (36%) and Queensland (17%).
Serious injury rates were highest among young people 15-19 years of age and people 70 years and older, and males accounted for 57% of the hospitalisations.
Rail users made up two-thirds of the hospitalisations due to transport accidents involving a train. Rail users were most commonly injured while boarding or alighting and by falling inside the train or falling from the train.
Pedestrians injured in a collision with a train accounted for 16% of hospitalisations. Car occupants accounted for 12% of those injured in a collision with a train and a further 5% were occupants or riders of other motor vehicles, including trucks, pick-up trucks or vans, buses and motorcycles.
For about one-quarter of those seriously injured in an accident involving a train, the accident occurred at a level crossing. There were on average 50 people seriously injured per year in level crossing accidents.
Serious injury rates due to a level crossing accident were highest among young adults 20-24 years of age and males accounted for two-thirds of the hospitalisations. Over half of all the hospitalisations resulting from level crossing accidents were in Victoria.