Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022) Transport accidents, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 27 September 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2022). Transport accidents. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/transport-accidents
Transport accidents. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 16 June 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/transport-accidents
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Transport accidents [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2022 [cited 2022 Sep. 27]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/transport-accidents
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2022, Transport accidents, viewed 27 September 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/transport-accidents
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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 road and other transport accidents, most commonly while in a car, or on a motorcycle or bicycle.
In 2019–20, transport injuries resulted in around:
245 per 100,000 population
5.2 per 100,000 population
This represents 12% of injury hospitalisations and 9.9% of injury deaths. Males and young people are particularly at risk, and fracture is the most common type of injury sustained in hospitalised cases.
This report summarises data on unintentional transport injuries resulting in hospitalisation or death. Intentional injuries are included under Self-harm injuries and suicide or Assault and homicide.
In 2019–20, almost a third of transport injury hospitalisations were for car occupants (31%) and almost a quarter (24%) were for motorcyclists (Table 1).
Mode of transport
Car occupants (V40–49)
Pedal cyclists (V10–19)
Other or unspecified (V30–39, V50–99)
Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.
For more detail, see Data tables B1–2.
In 2019–20, half of transport injury deaths were for car occupants (51%) and about 1 in 6 (16%) were for motorcyclists (Table 2).
Source: AIHW National Mortality Database.
For more detail, see Data tables E1–2.
Hospital admissions due to transport injuries suggest some patterns over the year. There are two peaks per year, in October and April, potentially due to increased traffic in school holidays.
In March 2020 the first lockdowns and social distancing measures associated with COVID-19 interrupted the usual activity of many Australians. In April 2020 the number of hospital admissions due to transport injuries was noticeably lower than previous years, and there were 11% fewer from March to May than the same period of the previous year (Figure 1). As initial restrictions eased, transport injuries rose and by June were higher than the same month of previous years.
See the interactive COVID-19 display for data and further discussion about the impact of COVID-19 on hospital admissions.
1. Months have been standardised to 31 days.
2. A scale up factor has been applied to June admissions to account for cases not yet separated.
The age-standardised rate of hospitalisations due to transport injuries in 2019–20 was 2.5% lower than a year earlier. This decrease appears to be due to the effects of COVID-19 lockdowns and social distancing.
Over the period from 2009–10 to 2016–17 there was an average annual rise of 0.5% for the age-standardised rate of hospitalisations. There is a break in the time series for hospitalisations between 2016–17 and 2017–18 due to a change in data collection methods (see the Technical notes for details).
For transport deaths, the age-standardised rate for 2019–20 was 8.0% lower than a year earlier. The average annual change in rate between 2010–11 and 2019–20 was -3.7% (Figure 2).
The visualisation features 2 matching line graphs on separate tabs, 1 for hospitalisations and 1 for deaths. The 3 lines represent the trend for males, females and persons. The reader can select to display rate per 100,000 population or number.
For more detail, see Data tables C1–7 and F1–4.
Rates of transport injury hospitalisation and death differ for males and females, especially for certain age groups (Figure 3). In 2019–20:
The visualisation features 2 matching column graphs on separate tabs, 1 for hospitalisations 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 detail, see Data tables A1–3 and D1–3.
There are many ways that the severity, or seriousness, of an injury can be measured. Using available data, three measures of the severity of hospitalised injuries are:
The average number of days in hospital for transport injuries was similar to the average for all hospitalised injuries in 2019–20, while the percentages of cases that included time in an ICU and cases that involved continuous ventilatory support were both higher (Table 3).
Average number of days in hospital
% of cases with time in an ICU
% of cases involving ventilator
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.
For more detail, see Data table A12–13.
In 2019–20, the head and neck was the body part most often identified as the principal site of injury in transport hospitalisations (Figure 4), although this varies by type of transport. In part, it may reflect the inherently more serious nature of head and neck injuries.
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.
For more detail, see Data table A11.
Fractures were by far the most common type of injury for people who were hospitalised due to a transport accident (Figure 5).
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 detail, see Data table A10.
In 2019–20, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:
Rate (per 100,000)
Note: Rates are crude per 100,000 population.
For more detail, see Data tables A4–5 and D4–5.
In 2019–20, Indigenous Australians were:
The age-specific rate of transport injury hospitalisations was highest among the 15–24 age group for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians (Figure 6). Deaths data are not presented because of small numbers.
The visualisation features a column graph for hospitalisations. 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 detail, see Data tables A4–6 and D4–8.
In 2019–20, people living in Very remote areas, compared with people living in Major cities, were:
Note: Rates are age-standardised per 100,000 population.
n.p. Not published because of small numbers, confidentiality or other concerns about the quality of the data.
The highest age-specific rate of transport injury hospitalisation cases was among the 15–24 age group living in Very remote areas of Australia. (Figure 7).
Deaths data are not presented in Figure 7 because of small numbers.
The visualisation features a column graph for hospitalisations. 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 detail, see Data tables A7–9 and D9–10.
For information on how statistics by remoteness are calculated, see the Technical notes.
Defining injury hospitalisations and deaths: how injuries were counted
Technical notes: how the data were calculated
Data tables: download the full tables
ACCD (Australian Consortium for Classification Development) 2019. The international statistical classification of diseases and related health problems, 10th revision, Australian modification (ICD-10-AM), 11th edn. Tabular list of diseases and alphabetic index of diseases. Adelaide: Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA), Lane Publishing.
WHO (World Health Organization) 2011. International statistical classification of diseases and related health problems, tenth revision. Fifth edition 2016. Geneva: WHO.
The following are recent publications that include information on transport injuries. Search Reports for any older publications that may exist.
The first year of COVID-19 in Australia: direct and indirect health effects
Pedal cyclist hospitalisations: estimating on-road cases (2000–01 to 2017–18)
Boating and watercraft-related injury in Australia (2017–18)
Trends in hospitalised injury, Australia, 2007–08 to 2016–17
Trends in injury deaths, Australia, 1999–00 to 2016–17
Spinal cord injury, Australia, 2017–18
Hospitalised injury and socioeconomic influence in Australia, 2015–16
Injury mortality and socioeconomic influence in Australia, 2015–16
Indigenous injury deaths, 2011–12 to 2015–16
Pedal cyclist injury deaths and hospitalisations, 1999–00 to 2015–16
Mobility scooter-related injuries and deaths (2011–12 to 2015–16)
Hospitalised farm injury, Australia: 2010–11 to 2014–15
Hospitalised injury due to land transport crashes (2014–15)
Injury of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people due to transport, 2010–11 to 2014–15
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