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by Tim Beissmann

The rate of people seriously injured in road traffic crashes in Australia has increased over recent years despite improvements to vehicle safety and continued efforts from governments to reduce the road toll.

The report ‘Trends in serious injury due to land transport accidents, Australia 2000-01 to 2008-09’ released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reveals the rate of people seriously injured in road traffic crashes increased from 138.3 to 156.7 per 100,000 people over the nine-year period.

More than one-quarter of those seriously injured in a road traffic crash sustained life-threatening injuries.

While injury rates increased, the death rate of people involved in road traffic crashes decreased from 9.2 per 100,000 in 2000-01 to 7.3 in 2008-09. Figures from the federal government’s Department of Infrastructure and Transport paint an even brighter picture, revealing the death rate improved to just 5.71 per 100,000 in 2011.

The AIHW report reveals the Northern Territory had the highest rate of serious injuries from crashes across the country (217 per 100,000) while New South Wales had the lowest (141.7). The rate of serious injuries in the ACT more than doubled over the nine-year period, rising to become the second-worst region in Australia after being by far the safest nine years ago.

The 15- to 24-year-old age bracket continues to be the most hazardous for males and females. A total of 1514 young people in that age group sustained life-threatening injuries in road traffic crashes in 2008-09 compared with 1403 in the broader 25- to 44-year-old group. Encouragingly, however, the government’s ‘Road deaths Australia 2011 statistical summary’ reveals the death rate of road users in the 17- to 25-year-old bracket has improved more than any other over the past decade, falling from 18.4 deaths per 100,000 in 2002 to 9.7 in 2011.

Unsurprisingly, motorcyclists continue to be the most over-represented group in crash statistics. In 2008-09, the rate of serious injury for motorcyclists was 1346 per 100,000 registered vehicles, more than 10 times the corresponding rate for car occupants.




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