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STUDY: Serious injury due to land transport accidents, Australia 2006–07

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare as part of its Injury Research and Statistics Series published a report authored by Geoff Henely and James E Harrison in December 2009, titled Serious injury due to land transport accidents, Australia 2006-2007.

Men are more than twice as likely as women to suffer serious injury as a result of a land transport accident, [according to] the report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).  The rep ort Serious injury due to land transport accidents, Australia 2006-07, found just over 52,000 people were seriously injured due to a land transport accident in 2006-07, resulting in over 232,000 patient days in hospital and an average length of stay of 4.5 days. Just over 50% of those seriously injured were aged less than 30 years, with car occupants accounting for almost 35%, motorcyclists 26% and pedal cyclists 18% of all persons seriously injured. ‘When looking at injury rates in relation to the number of registered vehicles, the rate of seriously injured motorcyclists was more than 10 times the rate for car occupants,’ said Geoff Henley of the Institute’s National Injury and Surveillance Unit. ‘And when looking at serious injury rates in relation to the number of kilometres travelled, the rate for motorcyclists was more than 37 times that of car occupants.’ Rates for the Northern Territory remained higher than those for all other jurisdictions. – Australian Institute of Health and Welfare press release December 17,2009.

The summary of the report is below. It reflects my emphasis:

Land transport

Land transport accidents accounted for 0.7% of all hospitalisations and 11.4% of all hospitalisations due to injury in Australia during 2006–07. There were 52,066 persons seriously injured due to land transport injury, resulting in 232,290
patient days in hospital and a mean length of stay of 4.5 days. Of those seriously injured, 63.0% (n = 32,777) were due to traffic (on-road) accidents, while 26.2% (n = 13,639) were due to non-traffic (off-road) accidents. For 10.9% (n = 5,650) of serious injury cases, the location was not specified.

Males were 2.2 times more likely than females to be seriously injured as a result of a land transport accident, while just over 50% of those seriously injured were aged less than 30 years.

When looking at mode of transport, car occupants accounted for 34.8% (n = 18,128) of all serious injury cases, followed by motorcyclists (26.4%, n = 13,726) and pedal cyclists (17.8%, n = 9,246).

For traffic (on-road) accidents, 49.5% of those seriously injured were car occupants, 22.3% were motorcyclists and 14.6% were pedal cyclists, while for non-traffic (off-road) accidents, 43.4% were motorcyclists, 30.6% were pedal cyclists and only 9.5% were car occupants.

Road vehicle traffic crashes

For those seriously injured due to traffic (on-road) accidents, 28.2% were judged to be suffering from injuries which were considered to be high threat to life. When looking at injury rates in relation to the number of registered vehicles, motorcyclists had by far the highest rate of 1,430 serious injury cases per 100,000 registered vehicles. This was more than 10 times the rate for car occupants.

When looking at injury rates in relation to the number of kilometres travelled, motorcyclists also had by far the highest rate of 385 serious injury cases per 100 million kilometres travelled. This was more than 37 times the rate for car occupants.

Trends

For the period from 2000-01 to 2006-07, there was an increase of 47% in age-standardised rates of serious injury for motorcyclists and an increase of 47% in rates for pedal cyclists. All other modes of transport recorded only relatively small changes in rates over this period. A similar pattern was seen for those seriously injured with high threat to life injuries. Rates for the Northern Territory remained higher than those for all other jurisdictions over the entire period from 2000–01 to 2006–07. The difference in rates between the Northern Territory and other jurisdictions over this period was even more pronounced when only high threat to life cases were considered.

Salient points of relevance to cyclists in the summary are:

  • Pedal cyclists accounted for 17.8%, n = 9,246 of serious injuries in the category land transport;
  • Pedal cyclists accounted for 30.6% of serious injuries in traffic (on-road) accidents;
  • In respect to trends, for the period 2000-01 to 2006-07 there was an increase of 47% in the standardised rates of serious injury for pedal cyclists.  All other modes of transport recorded only relatively small changes in rates over the same period.

Other interesting points:

  • 9,246 (17.8%) cyclists where seriously injured. The split between traffic (travelling on public roads) and non-traffic riding conditions where pretty evenly split: – 4,789 serious injuries in traffic and 4,180 serious injuries in non-traffic riding conditions.
  • Place of occurrence for pedal cyclists (adults aged 18 years)
    • Driveway to home – 13
    • Other and unspecified place in the home – 28
    • Street and highway – 2,558
      • Roadway – 2,248
      • Footpath next to road – 103
      • Cycleway – 105
      • Other specified public highway, street or road – 37
      • Unspecified public highway, street or road – 65
    • Parking place – 11
    • Farm – None
    • School – None
    • Sports and athletics area – 141
    • Forest, beach, area of water and other specified countryside – 136
    • Unspecified place of occurrence – 1,548
  • Mechanism for pedal cyclists seriously injured in traffic
    • 35 % – Other and unspecified
    • 34% – non-collision transport accident,e.g., over-turning, failing or being thrown from a vehicle
    • 22% – Car, pickup truck or van
  • Mechanism for pedal cyclists seriously injured in non-traffic
    • 76% non-collision transport accident,e.g., over-turning, failing or being thrown from a vehicle.

There is more in-depth statistics in the report.  For those interested a PDF copy of the report is available for download here.

2 Responses to STUDY: Serious injury due to land transport accidents, Australia 2006–07

  1. CycleSnail January 4, 2011 at 2:34 PM #

    Did the report relate cycling injuries to cycling participation?
    With about 1.5% participation in commuting and an 17.8% proportion of serious injuries cycling would be confirmed as the most dangerous way to commute…

  2. Aushiker January 4, 2011 at 3:38 PM #

    @CycleSnail I did look for that data but didn’t find it so would say probably not. The other problem is that using kilometres as the base distorts the figures anyway. A car can average 80 to 100 km in an hour whereas a cyclists is more likely to average 20 to 30 km in that same hour and hence do a lot less kilometres.

Please share your thoughts ...

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