Definition of transport-related injuries
Transport injuries describe any injury sustained due to rail, water, air, animal and road transport incidents.
The term “road trauma” is used to describe both the physical and mental injuries resulting from an event involving a transport crash, to those involved both directly and indirectly.1
Impact of transport-related injuries on Western Australia
Who does it impact?
In Western Australia between 2015 and 2019 there were:2
- 33,117 hospitalisations due to transport-related injuries.
- 67.7% of hospitalisations for transport-related injuries were males.
- people aged 25 – 44 had the highest incidence of transport-related injuries.
In Western Australia Aboriginal peoples make up 3.1% of the population, however between 2011 and 2015 7.1% of transport-related injury hospitalisations were Aboriginal people.2,3
Where does it occur?
In Western Australia, between 2015 and 2019, the three regions with the greatest difference in hospitalisation rate compared to the WA State hospitalisation rate, were the Kimberley (111% higher), Wheatbelt (77% higher) and Midwest (54% higher).2
Impact on health system
In Western Australia in 2019, there were 6,718 hospitalisations for transport-related injuries, consuming an estimated 27,448 bed days at an approximate cost of $66,312,705.2
Determinants of transport-related injuries
Safe roads are a key element in reducing the incidence of road crashes in WA. Design principles that; minimise conflict points, remove road user decisions, minimise entry speeds, include sealed road shoulders and audible edges are effective measures to improving road safety.4
Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of over 0.05gm% increases the individual’s risk of being involved in a road traffic incident due to alcohols influence on their central nervous system.5
There is a correlation between speed and road trauma, with around 24% of road crashes in rural WA that result in death or serious injuries being caused by excessive or inappropriate speeds.4
Seatbelts and Child Car Restraint use
Seatbelts and Child Car Restraints reduce the impact of a collision and minimise driver and passenger traffic injuries.4
A mistake, a momentary lapse in attention or being tired contribute to approximately 75% of all serious crashes in WA, making it a key modifiable behavioural influence on road crashes.4
Road safety legislation
Western Australia has legislation that determines appropriate behaviour around a number of behavioural determinants, including drug driving, speeding, seatbelt use and license probation periods.
Western Australian example: The Western Australian Police are directly responsible for enforcing the Western Australian Road Traffic Act 1974 and the Road Traffic Code 2000. This is done through programs like random breath testing of drivers to determine BAC levels, operating speed cameras and the red-light cameras at intersections.6
Safe road design
Road design considerations and strategies such as classifying roads, setting speed limits and creating safe pedestrian pathways can make a significant contribution to the prevention of transport-related injuries.7
Western Australian example: Investment in the sealing of road shoulders and the installation of audible lines on roads in rural WA has reduce casualty crash rates by 80% and severe crash rates by 80%. Taking into account treatment costs, the net savings due to these road design edits is estimated at $50.6 million. 4
Encouraging use of safer modes of transport
Using safer modes of transport, such as public transport, can help reduce the amount of congestion on roads and generally make mobility safer.7
Western Australian example: In Western Australia, the Public Transport Authority run the free CAT service around the Central Business District, as well as free trains between the hours of 12am and 3am on Saturday and Sundays to encourage use of public transport.
Road safety campaigns
Community campaigns can be effective in raising public awareness about the legislation around road safety and the consequences of not driving safely.8
Western Australian example: Western Australia’s strategy for road safety for 2020-2030, “Driving Change”, includes campaigns as a key strategy towards achieving positive behaviours, road safety culture and ultimately reducing the number of people fatally, severely or seriously injured on WA roads by 50-70% by 2030.4
Organisations and programs in Western Australia
Injury Matters Transport Resources
- Journey Beyond Road Trauma. Journey Beyond Road Trauma: Teacher Awareness Kit. (2011). https://yumpu.com/en/document/view/13938801/teacher-awareness-kit-journey-beyond-road-trauma
- Data generated using HealthTracks Reporting, by the Epidemiology Branch, WA Department of Health in collaboration with the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRC-SI), March 2021
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Western Australia, People www.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2016/quickstat/5?opendocument (2017).
- Government of Western Australia. Driving Change. Road Safety Strategy for Western Australia 2020-2030. (2020).
- Alcohol and Drug Foundation. Alcohol and driving. Alcohol and Drug Foundation https://adf.org.au/reducing-risk/alcohol/ (2021).
- Government of Western Australia. Road Traffic Act 1974. (2021).
- World Health Organization. Global status report on road safety 2018. (2018).
- Department of Health, Western Australia. Injury Prevention in Western Australia: A review of statewide activity. (2015).