This report presents estimates of trends in the number and rate of persons injured in Australia due to road vehicle traffic crashes. Serious injury is defined as when the person was admitted to hospital for their injury. Trends in high threat to life, or life threatening, injury are also reported. Injury deaths are not included in this report.

This is a companion report to the more detailed reports on serious injury due to land transport accidents in Australia for the 2007–08 and 2008–09 financial years.

Trends in serious injury

Over the 9-year period from 2000–01 to 2008–09, age-standardised rates for persons seriously injured due to a road traffic crash increased from 138.3 to 156.7 per 100,000 population, an average annual increase of 1.6%.

All jurisdictions except for Victoria and the Northern Territory showed statistically significant increases in age-standardised rates of serious injury due to road vehicle traffic crashes over the 9-year period.

Trends in life-threatening injury

Over one-quarter (26%) of those seriously injured due to road traffic crashes sustained life-threatening injuries over the 9-year period from 2000–01 to 2008–09.

The highest rates were for persons aged 15–24 years for both males and females.

Rates of life-threatening cases involving drivers of motor vehicles, motor cyclists and pedal cyclists all rose significantly over this period.

The rate of cases involving motorcyclists shows an average annual rate of increase of 6.9%. Age-specific rates for males in all age groups, except those aged 0–4 years, increased significantly over the 9-year period. The largest average annual increases in rates were recorded in the 45–64 years and 65 years and over age groups with increases of 14.7% and 13.9% respectively. For females injured as motorcyclists there were significant increases for those aged 25–44 years and 45–64 years.

The rate of cases involving pedal cyclists shows an average annual rate of increase of 6.8%. For both males and females in age groups 25–44 years, 45–64 years as well as for males aged 65 years and over, there were significant increases in age-specific rates over the 9-year period. The largest average annual increase in rates for males and females was recorded for those aged 45–64 years with increases of 14.0% for males and 14.4% for females.

Those injured as pedestrians recorded a significant annual rate of decrease of 1.8% over the period.

In 2000–01, 31% of all high threat to life road injuries sustained by males aged 45–64 years occurred while they were riding motorcycles or pedal cycles. This had risen to over 51% in 2008–09.

Persons living in remote areas recorded the highest average annual rate of increase of 5.8%, while persons living in major cities, inner and outer regional areas recorded smaller, but significant average annual rates of increase.