Road fatalities in Victoria have declined steadily by an average of 3.1 per cent per year between 2002 and 2011i. However, data reveals rising rates of hospitalisation for accidental injuries such as fallsii,iii.
Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that, despite a decline in the number of road accident fatalities, the number of casualties from accident-related injuries in Victoria has risen since 2002ii. The rising rates of fatal accidents in Victoria can be attributed to the growing number of non-transport related accidental injuries such as falls, which accounted for 711 deaths in 2011ii.
Injury and hospitalisation
In 2011, more than 340,000 Victorians were treated in hospital for accidental injuriesiii. Of these, over 230,000 were presented to the emergency departmentiii. Falls were the leading cause of hospital admissions for accidental injury, accounting for 44 per cent of hospital admissions that year. Transport-related accidents accounted for 12 per cent of admissions. Injuries caused from being hit, struck, or crushed accounted for 8.5 per centiv. In 2011, more men were admitted into hospital for injury than women, accounting for 59 per cent of injury-related hospital admissionsiii.
In FY2009-2010 Victoria's rate of hospitalisation for fall injuries was 682 cases per 100,000 population, an age standardised rate that was below the national average of 686v. It had the fourth lowest rate of injury for transport accidents (236 per 100,000 population, age standardised), following Tasmania (206), Western Australia (219) and New South Wales (235)vi.
Since 2002, there has been a decline in road fatalities and road crashes in Victoriavii. In 2011 there were 287 fatalities on the roads resulting from 259 road crashesvii,viii. Victoria had the third lowest rate of road fatalities in Australia (5.1 per 100,000 population, age standardised), after the Australian Capital Territory (1.64) and Tasmania (4.9)ix. 121 drivers and 60 passengers accounted for the majority of road deaths in 2011, followed by pedestrians (49), motorcyclists (49) and pedal cyclists (8)x. The number of motorcycle and push bike fatalities remained unchanged from 2010xi.
There were 109 single-vehicle crashes, which formed the majority of crashes, followed by multiple vehicle crashes (102) and pedestrian crashes (48)xii. Along with South Australia and New South Wales, Victoria has shown one of the strongest downward trends in annual road tolls. Between 2002 and 2011, the average change in the rate of road fatalities decreased by 4.7 per cent, which was above the nationwide decrease of 4.3 per centxiii.
Causes of injury and fatality
Fatigue, speeding, alcohol and not wearing a seatbelt were major factors in the severe road accidents that occurred in Victoria. Close to a quarter of drivers and motorcyclists killed on Victorian roads between 2007-2011 had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05 g/100ml and overxiv, while 25 per cent of killed motor vehicle occupants in 2011 were not wearing their seatbeltsxv. While data shows there were fewer fatalities on Victorian roads, transport-related accidents remain a significant contributor to major trauma cases. In FY2010-2011, 43.6 per cent of major trauma cases were transport-related, which increased from 42.4 per cent in FY2009-2010xvi.
According to Safe Work Australia there were 40 worker fatalities in Victoria in FY2010-2011xvii. The industries with the highest number of worker fatalities in Victoria were the transport, postal and warehousing, agriculture, forestry and fishing, and constructionxviii. In the 2010-2011 financial year, Victoria had the second lowest rate of worker fatalities in Australia (1.4 deaths per 100,000 population), following the Australian Capital Territory (0.4)xix.
Health system challenges
Ongoing challenges faced by Victoria's health system include providing better post-hospital care for major trauma patients. Survey findings from Monash University reveal outpatient care facilities and services in Victoria could be improved; with a mention of patients experiencing long wait times for consultations at clinicsxx.
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