Accidents: injuries and fatalities in WA


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Accidents: injuries and fatalities in WA

Western Australia has seen a decline in the rate of road fatalities between 2002 and 2011 with strong improvements over recent years. Yet injury in 2011 was the fourth leading cause of death and second as a cause of potential years of life losti.

The rate of fatal accidents in Western Australia increased from 2002 to 2009. In 2004, the rate of fatal accidents was the lowest recorded between 2002 and 2009, with just over 23 per 100,000 population. This can be attributed to a decrease in non-transport related accidental death from 2003 to 2004. However, since then there have been increases in non-transport related accidental deaths. In 2009, there were 27.5 fatal accidents per 100,000 populationii.

Sources: Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013, 3303.0 Causes of Death, Australia, 2011, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3303.0/; Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013, 3218.0 Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2011-12, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3218.0/

Injury

In 2011, the Department of Health in Western Australia released a report, which looks at the prevalence of injury across the state between 2000 and 2008. The data is extracted from the WA Death Registrations Database and the WA Hospital Morbidity Data System (HMDS). The report reveals injury was the fourth leading cause of death in the state during that period and second as a cause of potential years of life losti.

Between 2002 and 2009, the rate of fatal accidents per 100,000 population in Western Australia increased from 24 to 28.

Land transport was ranked as the second-leading cause of injury death and hospitalisation and the leading cause of injury death for young people aged 5-24 yearsiii. Falls were the leading cause of injury and death in people aged 65 years and overiii.

In the 2009-2010 financial year Western Australia had the second lowest rate of hospitalisations for fall injuries in Australia (587 cases per 100,000 population, age standardised) after Tasmania (522). The national age standardised rate was 686 cases per 100,000 populationiv.

Road injury

In 2011, Western Australia had the second highest rate of road fatalities in Australia (7.67 deaths per 100,000 population), following the Northern Territory (19.12). While many states, led by New South Wales and South Australia, had significant declines in both road deaths and the rate of road deaths between 2002 and 2011, this has not been the case in Western Australia. During this period, the average change in the rate of road fatalities decreased by 1.2%, which was below the nationwide decrease of 4.3%. And while every other state and territory had a decrease in the average change in the actual number of road fatalities from 2002 to 2011, Western Australia increased (1%)v.

During the period from 2002 to 2011, the highest number of fatalities was in 2007 (235). Since that time the figures consistently have improved year-on-year. In 2011, the road toll was 180 which was a 6.7% decrease on the previous yearv. Drivers and passengers accounted for 86 and 36 deaths, respectively, motorcyclists for 29, pedestrians for 26, and pedal cyclists for 3vi. In 2011 the 94 single-vehicle crashes recorded accounted for the majority of the 168 fatal road crashes. 49 were multiple-vehicle crashes and 25 crashes involved pedestriansvii.

Fatality rates on Western Australian roads have been improving in recent years, however the state still has the second worst road toll rate.

Causes of injury and fatality

The Road Safety Council in Western Australia identified that in 2010 driving under the influence of alcohol, speeding, and travelling in a motor vehicle without a fastened seat belt were prominent contributing factors to fatal road crashes and road fatalities in the stateviii. The Reported Road Crashes in Western Australia report reveals that in 2010, in nearly one third (29%) of police-attended fatal road crashes involving drivers and motorcyclists, the driver of the vehicle had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05g/100ml or aboveix. Speed was a contributing factor in nearly a quarter (24%) of police-attended fatal road crashesx. Furthermore, of all the reported motor vehicle occupant fatalities in 2010, 24% were not wearing a seat beltxi.

Data from Safe Work Australia reveals that in the 2010-2011 financial year there were 33 workplace fatalities in Western Australiaxii. In Western Australia, the four industry sectors with the highest fatality rates are: Agriculture, forestry and fishing; Transport, postal and warehousing; Construction; and Manufacturing. Between the 2003-2004 and 2010-2011 financial years there were 54 deaths in Agriculture, forestry and fishing, 49 in Transport, postal and warehousing, 31 in Construction and 29 in Manufacturingxiii.

Injury prevention priorities

Apart from the Department of Health in Western Australia, various not-for-profit organisations are also working towards implementing better injury prevention strategies to curb the burden of injury deaths and hospitalisations in the state. Key areas of focus are promoting road safety, in particular addressing the importance of seat belt safety and the negative impact of alcohol on accidents and injuriesxiv.


i Department of Health, 2011, The Epidemiology of Injury in Western Australia 2000-2008, Government WA, http://www.healthnetworks.health.wa.gov.au/docs/Epidemiology_of_injury_in_WA_Nov2011.pdf, p.14

ii Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013, 3303.0 Causes of Death, Australia, 2011, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3303.0/

iii Department of Health, 2011, The Epidemiology of Injury in Western Australia 2000-2008, Government WA, http://www.healthnetworks.health.wa.gov.au/docs/Epidemiology_of_injury_in_WA_Nov2011.pdf, p.15

iv AIHW, 2012, Hospital Separations due to injury and poisoning, http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=60129542183, p.75

v BITRE, 2012, Road Deaths Australia 2011 Statistical Summary, Australian Government, http://www.bitre.gov.au/publications/2012/files/RDA_Summary_2011.pdf, p.2

vi BITRE, 2012, Road Deaths Australia 2011 Statistical Summary, Australian Government, http://www.bitre.gov.au/publications/2012/files/RDA_Summary_2011.pdf, p.2,3

vii BITRE, 2012, Road Deaths Australia 2011 Statistical Summary, Australian Government, http://www.ors.wa.gov.au/Documents/Statistics/statistics-annualcrashstats-2010.aspx, p.25,26

viii Road Safety Council WA, 2012, Reported Road Crashes In Western Australia 2010, Government WA, http://www.ors.wa.gov.au/Documents/Statistics/statistics-annualcrashstats-2010.aspx, p.iii

ix Road Safety Council WA, 2012, Reported Road Crashes In Western Australia 2010, Government WA, http://www.ors.wa.gov.au/Documents/Statistics/statistics-annualcrashstats-2010.aspx, p.53

x Road Safety Council WA, 2012, Reported Road Crashes In Western Australia 2010, Government WA, http://www.ors.wa.gov.au/Documents/Statistics/statistics-annualcrashstats-2010.aspx, p.45

xi Road Safety Council WA, 2012, Reported Road Crashes In Western Australia 2010, Government WA, http://www.ors.wa.gov.au/Documents/Statistics/statistics-annualcrashstats-2010.aspx, p.60

xii Safe Work Australia, 2012, Work-Related Traumatic Injury Fatalities Australia 2010–11, http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA/about/Publications/Documents/730/WorkRelatedTraumaticInjuryFatalities2010-11.pdf, p.11

xiii Safe Work Australia, 2012, Work-Related Traumatic Injury Fatalities Australia 2010–11, http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA/about/Publications/Documents/730/WorkRelatedTraumaticInjuryFatalities2010-11.pdf, p.13

xiv Department of Health, 2011, The Epidemiology of Injury in Western Australia 2000-2008, Government WA, http://www.healthnetworks.health.wa.gov.au/docs/Epidemiology_of_injury_in_WA_Nov2011.pdf, p.131