Transport is part of our daily lives and a major component of the economy. However, every year, thousands of Australians are hurt or die in accidental road and other transport crashes, mainly whilst in a car or riding a motorcycle or bicycle.

In 2017–18, 12% of hospitalised injury cases and 11% of injury deaths were due to transport crashes. Males and young people are particularly at risk, and fracture is the most common type of injury sustained in hospitalised injury cases.

This article summarises key data on unintentional transport hospitalised injuries and deaths. Intentional injuries and deaths involving transport are included under Self-harm injuries and suicide or Assault and homicide.

In 2017–18, transport crashes resulted in:

62,387 hospitalisation cases

252 per 100,000 population

1,428 deaths

5.8 per 100,000 population

This report only includes data on injuries that result in hospital admission or death. If a person dies from an injury after being admitted to hospital, both the hospitalisation and the death is included in this report. For more information, see Defining injury hospitalisation cases and injury deaths.

Which types of transport are involved in hospitalisations?

In 2017–18, over 1 in 3 transport injury hospitalisations were for car occupants (35%) and 1 in 4 (24%) transport injury hospitalisations were for motorcyclists (Table 1).

Table 1: Top types of transport injury hospitalisation cases, 2017–18

Location

Number

%

Rate (per 100,000)

Car, van or pick-up truck occupants (V40–59)

21,860

35

88

Motorcyclists (V20–29)

14,761

24

60

Pedal cyclists (V10–19)

12,226

20

49

Pedestrian (V00–09)

4,131

7

17

Other or unspecified (V30–39, V60–99)

9,409

15

38

Total

62,387

100

252

Notes:

  1. Rates are crude per 100,000 population.
  2. Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding.
  3. Codes in brackets refer to the ICD-10-AM (10th edition) external cause codes (ACCD 2017).

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.

For more detailed data, see Data tables B1–2.

Trends over time

Since 2008–09, there has been:

  • virtually no change in the annual average rate of transport hospitalisation cases to 2016–17
  • a 3.6% annual average decrease in transport death rates to 2017–18.

Annual average rate changes are calculated using modelled age-standardised rates (see Technical notes for more details).

Because of changes in data collection methods, hospitalisations data for 2017–18 should not be compared with those of previous years and are not included in Figure 1 (see Technical notes for more details). Death data for 2017–18 are comparable with rates for previous years.

Figure 1: Transport injury hospitalisation cases and deaths, by age group and sex, 2008–09 to 2016–17 (hospitalisation cases) and 2008–09 to 2017–18 (deaths)

The visualisation features 2 matching line graphs on separate tabs, 1 for hospitalisation cases and 1 for deaths. The 3 lines represent the trend for males, females and persons from 2008–09 to 2016–17 for hospitalisation cases and to 2017–18 for deaths. The reader can select to display rate per 100,000 population or number, and can select by life-stage age group including all ages.

For more detailed data, see Data tables C1–4 and E1–4.

How do injuries vary by age and sex?

Transport injury hospitalisation and death rates differ for males and females, especially for certain age groups (Figure 2). In 2017–18:

  • 2 in 3 (66%) transport injury hospitalisations were for males (41,074 cases) and 34% were for females (21,312 cases)
  • 3 in 4 (74%) transport injury deaths were for males (1,055 deaths) and 26% were for females (373 deaths)
  • the age-standardised rate of transport injury hospitalisations for males was 338 cases per 100,000 males, compared with 169 per 100,000 females.
  • the age-standardised rate of transport deaths for males was 8.4 per 100,000 males, compared with 2.8 per 100,000 females
  • young people aged 15–24 had the highest rates of hospitalisation due to transport injury, compared with other life-stage age groups
  • people aged 65 and over had the highest rate of transport injury death, compared with other life-stage age groups.

Figure 2: Transport injury hospitalisation cases and deaths, by age group and sex, 2017–18

The visualisation features 2 matching column graphs on separate tabs, 1 for hospitalisation cases and 1 for deaths. The columns represent sex within 6 life-stage age groups. The reader can select to display either age-specific rate per 100,000 population or number. The default displays males and females and the reader can also select to display persons.

For more detailed data, see Data tables A1–3 and D1–3.

How severe are hospitalised injuries due to transport?

Three measures that may indicate the severity of a hospitalised injury are length of stay, percentage of cases with time in an intensive care unit (ICU), and percentage of cases involving continuous ventilator support.

The average duration of a hospital stay for injuries due to transport crashes was similar to the average for all injury hospitalisations, while the percentages of cases that included time in an ICU and cases that involved continuous ventilator support were higher than for all hospitalised injuries in 2017–18 (Table 2).

Table 2: Severity of transport injury hospitalisation cases, 2017–18

 

Transport injuries

All hospitalised injuries

Average number of days in hospital

3.4

3.3

% of cases with time in an ICU

4.1

2.4

% of cases involving ventilator

2.1

1.2

Note: Average number of days in hospital (length of stay) includes admissions that are transfers from 1 hospital to another or transfers from 1 admitted care type to another within the same hospital, except where care involves rehabilitation procedures.

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.

Which types of injuries are sustained?

In 2017–18, the head and neck was the body part most frequently injured in hospitalised transport crashes, although this varies by type of transport (Figure 3). In part, this may reflect the inherently more serious nature of head and neck injuries.

Figure 3: Transport injury hospitalisation cases by body part injured, 2017–18

The visualisation features an outline of a person with labels for body parts accounting for hospitalisations due to transport crashes. Injuries to the head and neck accounted for the most hospitalisations, while the ankle and foot accounted for the fewest.

Note: Body part refers to the principal reason for hospitalisation. Number and percentage of injuries classified as Other, multiple and incompletely specified body regions or Injuries not described in terms of body region not shown—see Data table A11.

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.

For more detailed data, see Data table A11.

Fractures were by far the most common type of injury for people who were hospitalised due to a transport crash (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Transport injury hospitalisation cases by type of injury, 2017–18

Bar graph showing type of injury sustained by category and by sex. Fracture was the most common for both males and females but more than twice as frequent for males. Open wound was second for males, while superficial injury was second for female. The reader can select to display either the crude rate per 100,000 population or the number of cases. The default display shows data for males and females, and the reader can also select to display for persons.

For more detailed data, see Data table A12.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

In 2017–18, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:

  • there were over 2,760 hospitalisations and 83 deaths due to transport crashes (Tables 3 and 4)
  • males, compared with females, were 1.8 times as likely to be hospitalised and 2.1 times as likely to die due to transport crashes
  • hospitalisation rates were highest among people aged 15–24, compared with other life-stage age groups (Figure 5).
Table 3: Number and rate of transport injury hospitalisation cases by sex, Indigenous Australians, 2017–18

 

Males

Females

Persons

Number

1,771

992

2,763

Rate (per 100,000)

431

241

336

Note: Rates are crude per 100,000 population.

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.

Table 4: Number and rate of transport injury deaths by sex, Indigenous Australians, 2017–18

 

Males

Females

Persons

Number

58

25

83

Rate (per 100,000)

16.0

6.9

11.4

Notes:

  1. Rates are crude per 100,000 population.
  2. Deaths data only includes data for New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, and the Northern Territory.

Source: AIHW National Mortality Database.

Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians

In 2017–18, Indigenous Australians, compared with non-Indigenous Australians, were:

  • 1.3 times as likely to be hospitalised due to a transport crash (Table 5)
  • 2.3 times as likely to die in a transport crash (Table 6).
Table 5: Age-standardised rates (per 100,000) of transport injury hospitalisation cases by Indigenous status and sex, 2017–18

 

Males

Females

Persons

Indigenous Australians

429

243

335

Non-Indigenous Australians

334

166

250

Notes:

  1. Rates are age-standardised per 100,000 population.
  2. ‘Non-Indigenous Australians’ includes cases where Indigenous status is missing or not stated.

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.

Table 6: Age-standardised rates (per 100,000) of transport injury deaths by Indigenous status and sex, 2017–18

 

Males

Females

Persons

Indigenous Australians

17.9

8.6

13.2

Non-Indigenous Australians

8.8

2.7

5.7

Notes:

  1. Rates are age-standardised per 100,000 population.
  2. ‘Non-Indigenous Australians’ includes cases where Indigenous status is missing or not stated.
  3. Deaths data only includes data for people whose usual residence was New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, and the Northern Territory.

Source: AIHW National Mortality Database.

The age-specific rate of transport injury hospitalisation cases was highest among the 15–24 life-stage age group for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians (Figure 5). Deaths data are not presented because of small numbers.

Figure 5: Transport injury hospitalisation cases, by Indigenous status, by age group and sex, 2017–18

The visualisation features a column graph for hospitalisation cases. The columns represent data for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by 6 life-stage age groups. The reader can select to display age-specific rate per 100,000 population or number. The reader can also select to display data for persons, males or females.

For more detailed data, see Data tables A4–A6 and D4–D8.

Remoteness

In 2017–18, people living in Very remote areas, compared with people living in Major cities, were:

  • 2.2 times as likely to be hospitalised by a transport crash (Table 7)
  • 4.7 times as likely to die in a transport crash (Table 8).
Table 7: Age-standardised rates (per 100,000) of transport injury hospitalisation cases by remoteness and sex, 2017–18

 

Males

Females

Persons

Major cities

283

145

214

Inner regional

431

214

322

Outer regional

500

221

363

Remote

598

297

453

Very remote

591

351

478

n.p. Not publishable because of small numbers, confidentiality or other concerns about the quality of the data.

Note: Rates are age-standardised per 100,000 population.

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.

Table 8: Age-standardised rates (per 100,000) of transport injury deaths by remoteness and sex, 2017–18

 

Males

Females

Persons

Major cities

5.7

1.8

3.7

Inner regional

13.5

4.0

8.7

Outer regional

17.0

5.5

11.3

Remote

21.4

n.p.

15.0

Very remote

19.1

n.p.

17.5

n.p. Not publishable because of small numbers, confidentiality or other concerns about the quality of the data.

Note: Rates are age-standardised per 100,000 population.

Source: AIHW National Mortality Database.

The highest age-specific rate of transport injury hospitalisation cases was among the 15–24 life-stage age group living in Remote areas of Australia. (Figure 6).

Deaths data are not presented in Figure 6 because of small numbers (see Data tables D9–10).

Figure 6: Transport injury hospitalisation cases, by remoteness, by age group and sex, 2017–18

The visualisation features a column graph for hospitalisation cases. The columns represent data for each of the 5 remoteness categories by 6 life-stage age groups. The reader can select to display age-specific rate per 100,000 population or number. The reader can also select to display data for persons, males or females.

For more detailed data, see Data tables A7–A9 and D9–10.

For information on how statistics by remoteness are calculated, see Technical notes.

More information

Technical notes—read about how the data were calculated.

Data tables—download full data tables.

Glossary

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