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 2018–19, transport injuries resulted in around:

63,900 hospitalisations

255 per 100,000 population

1,400 deaths

5.6 per 100,000 population

This represents 12% of injury hospitalisations and 10% 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.

Types of transport involved in injury hospitalisations

In 2018–19, over a third of transport injury hospitalisations were for car occupants (34%) and almost a quarter (24%) were for motorcyclists (Table 1).

Table 1: Most common types of transport injury hospitalisations, 2018–19

Location

Number

%

Rate (per 100,000)

Car occupants (V40–49)

21,945

34

87

Motorcyclists (V20–29)

15,173

24

60

Pedal cyclists (V10–19)

12,610

20

50

Pedestrian (V00–09)

4,062

6

16

Other or unspecified (V30–39, V50–99)

10,065

16

40

Total

63,855

100

254

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 detail, see Data tables B1–2.

Trends over time

The age-standardised rate of hospitalisations due to transport injuries in 2018–19 was 0.6% higher than a year earlier. Over the period from 2009–10 to 2016–17 there was an average annual rise of 0.5%.

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 average annual change in rate between 2009–10 and 2018–19 was -3.1% (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Transport injury hospitalisations and deaths, by sex, 2009–10 to 2018–19

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 E1–4.

Variation by age and sex

Rates of transport injury hospitalisation and death differ for males and females, especially for certain age groups (Figure 2). In 2018–19:

  • 2 in 3 hospitalisations (66%) and 3 in 4 deaths (76%) were for males
  • the age-standardised rates of hospitalisation were 340 cases per 100,000 males, and 170 per 100,000 females
  • the age-standardised rates of death were 8.5 per 100,000 males, and 2.5 per 100,000 females
  • young people aged 15–24 had the highest rates of hospitalisation
  • people aged 65 and over had the highest rate of death.

Figure 2: Transport injury hospitalisations and deaths, by age group and sex, 2018–19

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.

Severity of hospitalised injuries

There are many ways that the severity, or seriousness, of an injury could be measured. Using the available data, three measures of the severity of hospitalised injuries are:

  • number of days in hospital
  • time in an intensive care unit (ICU)
  • time on a ventilator.

The average number of days in hospital for transport injuries was similar to the average for all hospitalised injuries in 2018–19, while the percentages of cases that included time in an ICU and cases that involved continuous ventilatory support were both higher (Table 2).

Table 2: Severity of transport injury hospitalisations, 2018–19

 

Transport injuries

All injuries

Average number of days in hospital

4.4

4.1

% of cases with time in an ICU

4.2

2.5

% of cases involving ventilator

2.3

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.

For more detail, see Data table A12–13.

Types of injuries sustained

In 2018–19, the head and neck was the body part most often identified as the principal site of injury in transport hospitalisations (Figure 3), although this varies by type of transport. In part, it may reflect the inherently more serious nature of head and neck injuries.  

Figure 3: Transport injury hospitalisations by principal body part injured, 2018–19

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 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 4).

Figure 4: Transport injury hospitalisations by type of injury, 2018–19

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.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

In 2018–19, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:

  • there were over 2,900 hospitalisations and 88 deaths due to transport accidents (Tables 3 and 4)
  • males were twice as likely as females to be hospitalised and 3 times as likely to die due to transport accidents
  • hospitalisation rates were highest among people aged 15–24 (Figure 5).
Table 3: Number and rate of transport injury hospitalisations by sex, Indigenous Australians, 2018–19

 

Males

Females

Persons

Number

1,929

985

2,914

Rate (per 100,000)

461

235

348

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, 2018–19

 

Males

Females

Persons

Number

65

23

88

Rate (per 100,000)

17.6

6.2

11.9

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.

For more detail, see Data tables A4–6 and D4–6.

Indigenous and other Australians

In 2018–19, Indigenous Australians were:

  • 1.4 times as likely to be hospitalised due to a transport accident, compared with other Australians (Table 5)
  • 2.5 times as likely to die in a transport accident, compared with non-Indigenous Australians (Table 6).
Table 5: Age-standardised rates (per 100,000) of transport injury hospitalisations by Indigenous status and sex, 2018–19

 

Males

Females

Persons

Indigenous Australians

453

236

343

Other Australians

335

168

251

Notes:
1. Rates are age-standardised per 100,000 population.
2. ‘Other 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, 2018–19

 

Males

Females

Persons

Indigenous Australians

20.2

6.6

13.2

Non-Indigenous Australians

8.4

2.4

5.3

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 hospitalisations was highest among the 15–24 age group for both Indigenous and other Australians (Figure 5). Deaths data are not presented because of small numbers.

Figure 5: Transport injury hospitalisations, by Indigenous status, by age group and sex, 2018–19

The visualisation features a column graph for hospitalisations. The columns represent data for Indigenous and other 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 D4–6.

Remoteness

In 2018–19, people living in Very remote areas, compared with people living in Major cities, were:

  • 2.4 times as likely to be hospitalised by a transport accident (Table 7)
  • 5.6 times as likely to die in a transport accident (Table 8).
Table 7: Age-standardised rates (per 100,000) of transport injury hospitalisations by remoteness and sex, 2018–19

 

Males

Females

Persons

Major cities

284

143

214

Inner regional

435

219

327

Outer regional

508

242

376

Remote

616

289

458

Very remote

602

407

510

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, 2018–19

 

Males

Females

Persons

Major cities

5.1

1.5

3.3

Inner regional

14.6

4.1

9.2

Outer regional

20.0

4.8

12.4

Remote

29.1

n.p.

18.9

Very remote

25.9

n.p.

18.1

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 age group living in Very remote areas of Australia. (Figure 6).

Deaths data are not presented in Figure 6 because of small numbers.

Figure 6: Transport injury hospitalisations, by remoteness, by age group and sex, 2018–19

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.

More information

Defining injury hospitalisations and deaths: how injuries were counted

Technical notes: read about how the data were calculated.

Data tables: download full data tables.

Glossary