Why are road fatality rates important?
In most countries, including Australia, young drivers are significantly over-represented among those killed or injured in road traffic accidents, as young drivers are more likely to engage in risky driving behaviours (WHO 2014). The over-representation of young people in road traffic accidents has been linked to risky driving behaviours including speeding, driving when fatigued, and driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs (Smart et al. 2005). Young people differ from the general population in that their fatal vehicle accidents occur more often at weekends or at night (BITRE 2013).
Do rates vary across population groups?
In 2014, the road transport accident death rate among all young people was 5.5 per 100,000. Young people aged 18–24 were over-represented with a death rate more than 4 times as high as that for 12–17 year olds (8.2 per 100,000 compared to 2.0 per 100,000). Males had a much higher death rate than their females, with 8.0 and 2.9 deaths per 100,000 respectively.
Of the different road users in 2014, the highest death rate was experienced by drivers (2.4 per 100,000), followed by passengers (1.5 per 100,000), motorcyclists (0.9 per 100,000) and pedestrians (0.6 per 100,000).
Has there been a change over time?
There has been a steady decline in the road transport accident death rate among all young people from 2010 to 2014 (8.8 per 100,000 to 5.5 per 100,000). Over this period, a similar decline is evident for young people aged 12–17 (3.7 per 100,000 to 2.0 per 100,000) and 18–24 years (12.7 per 100,000 to 8.2 per 100,000). There has been a large reduction in the road transport death rate among young males from 13.1 per 100,000 in 2010, to 8.0 per 100,000 in 2014. There also appears to be a reduction in the death rate for females over this period (4.2 per 100,000 to 2.9 per 100,000), although this was less pronounced than the decline among males.