Rise in serious road injuries, but fall in train injuries

The rate of people seriously injured due to road traffic crashes has risen, while the rate for those seriously injured in accidents involving trains has dropped, according to reports 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 2008-09, shows that over the 9-year period, the rate of people seriously injured due to road traffic crashes increased from 138.3 to 156.7 per 100,000 people.

Over one-quarter of those seriously injured due to road traffic crashes sustained life-threatening injuries. ‘These cases increased by an average of 1.7% per year,’ said AIHW spokesman Professor James Harrison. ‘Rates rose more steeply for cases involving motorcyclists (6.8%) and pedal cyclists (6.9%). The rise was still sharper for cases involving males aged 45–64 years as motorcyclists (14.7%) and pedal cyclists (14.0%).’

People living in remote areas recorded the highest average annual increase in the rate of life-threatening injury due to road traffic crashes (5.8%), but there were small increases for all areas.

Another AIHW report released today, Serious injury due to transport accidents involving a railway train, Australia 2004–05 to 2008–09, shows that rates of serious injury due to transport accidents involving trains dropped by an average of 5.1% a year over the 9-year period from 2000–01 to 2008–09.

‘About one rail user was seriously injured per 100 million passenger kilometres travelled in 2008–09,’ Professor Harrison said.

Between 2004–05 and 2008–09, 868 people were seriously injured in Australia due to transport accidents involving trains—an average of 174 per year.

Most of these cases were in Victoria (37.6%), New South Wales (30.0%) and Queensland (20.2%).

Two further reports, Serious injury due to land transport accidents, Australia 2007–08 and Serious injury due to land transport accidents, Australia, 2008–09, also released today, show that motorcyclists have the highest rate of serious injury cases when the number of registered vehicles is taken into account.

‘In 2008–09, motorcyclists had by far the highest rate, with 1,346 serious injury cases per 100,000 registered vehicles,’ Professor Harrison said. 

‘This was ten times the corresponding rate for car occupants.’

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia’s health and welfare.

Canberra, 18 June 2012

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