This publication provides a summary of injury, both fatal and non-fatal, of Indigenous people in Northern Territory, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland due to land transport accidents in the five-year period 2001–02 to 2005–06. Sixty per cent of the Indigenous population of Australia and 38% of the total Australian population reside in these four jurisdictions. The main findings of the report are presented below.
All transport injury
- Transport accidents accounted for over a quarter (28%) of Indigenous deaths and 9% of Indigenous persons admitted to hospital (seriously injured) due to all external causes of injury. Transport accidents accounted for 24% of non-Indigenous deaths and 12% of non-Indigenous persons seriously injured due to all external causes of injury.
- On a population basis, Indigenous persons had an age-standardised rate of fatal injury due to transport accidents that was 2.9 times as high as non-Indigenous persons (30 compared to 10 per 100,000 population).
- Indigenous persons had an age-standardised rate of serious injury due to transport accidents that was 1.4 times as high as non-Indigenous persons (346 compared to 256 per 100,000 population).
- More than half (55%) of Indigenous persons fatally injured in a transport accident were car occupants. Similarly, 55% of non-Indigenous persons fatally injured were car occupants.
However, there were significant differences for other modes of transport:
- 34% of Indigenous persons were pedestrians compared with 12% of non-Indigenous persons;
- 2% of Indigenous persons were motorcyclists compared with 14% of non-Indigenous persons.
- Among persons seriously injured in transport accidents, there were also significant differences in the mode of transport according to Indigenous status:
- 47% of Indigenous persons were car occupants compared with 33% of non-Indigenous persons;
- 16% of Indigenous persons were pedestrians compared with 6% of non-Indigenous persons;
- 9% of Indigenous persons were motorcyclists compared with 26% of non-Indigenous persons.
- Two-thirds of Indigenous transport-related fatalities (66%) and serious injury cases (68%) were male. Four-fifths of non-Indigenous fatalities (70%) and serious injury cases (71%) were male.
- Accidents involving road vehicles accounted for almost all transport-related injury among Indigenous persons (99% of fatal injury and 99% of serious injury) and most transport-related injury among non-Indigenous persons (94% of fatal injury and 97% of serious injury) in this period.
Focusing on land transport accidents, i.e. those involving road vehicles but also including the smaller number involving trains, it was observed that:
- There were 3.0 times more fatalities and 1.4 times more hospitalisations due to land transport accidents among Indigenous persons compared to non-Indigenous persons (based on age-standardised rates).
- Fatal and serious injury rates, on an age-specific population basis, for non-Indigenous males and females were highest for the 15–19 and 20–24 year age groups, declining thereafter until the 60+ age groups. For Indigenous males and females, on the other hand, fatal and serious injury rates rose in early adulthood and remained elevated through middle age.
- There were 3.1 times more fatalities and 2.5 times more hospitalisations among Indigenous children aged 0–4 years compared to their non-Indigenous counterparts.
- The three most common mechanisms accounting for 68% of fatalities and 56% of persons seriously injured in Indigenous land transport crashes were 1) a car occupant injured in a non-collision transport accident (26% of deaths and 26% of hospitalisations), 2) a pedestrian injured in a collision with a car, pick-up truck or van (25% of deaths and 13% of hospitalisations), and 3) a car occupant injured in a collision of the car with a fixed or stationary object (17% of deaths and 9% of hospitalisations).
- The incidence (age-standardised) of car occupant deaths was 2.8 times as high for Indigenous persons as for non-Indigenous persons (16 compared to 6 per 100,000) and 2.1 times as high for hospitalisations (177 compared to 84 per 100,000). A higher proportion of car passengers relative to car drivers were killed or hospitalised among Indigenous persons, whereas the inverse was observed for non-Indigenous people.
- The incidence of pedestrians being killed was 9.3 times as high for Indigenous persons as for non-Indigenous pedestrians (11 compared to 1 per 100,000) and 3.9 times as high for hospitalisations (61 compared to 16 per 100,000).
- Age-standardised rates of fatal and serious injury increased according to remoteness of usual residence from an urban centre for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous persons. Three-quarters of Indigenous persons fatally (75%) and seriously (74%) injured in land transport accidents resided in outer regional, remote or very remote areas. By contrast, over two-thirds of non-Indigenous persons fatally (69%) and seriously injured (69%) resided in major cities or inner regional areas.
- Most Indigenous (90%) and non-Indigenous (91%) land transport fatalities occurred in traffic conditions (i.e. on a public road). Taking into account the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations in each of the remoteness areas, Indigenous persons living in major cities and inner regional areas had fatality rates that were 2.3 times and 1.9 times greater, respectively, than for non-Indigenous persons. In outer regional Australia, the fatality rates were similar. In remote and very remote areas, the fatality rates for Indigenous persons were 2.5 times and 2.3 times greater, respectively, than for non-Indigenous persons.
- Two-thirds of Indigenous serious injury cases (65%) and more than half (57%) of non-Indigenous serious injury cases occurred on a public road. Indigenous persons living in major cities had serious injury rates that were 1.2 times greater than for non-Indigenous persons. In inner regional Australia, the serious injury rates were similar. Non-Indigenous persons had higher rates of serious injury than Indigenous persons in outer regional Australia, (1.3 times), remote areas (1.1 times) and in very remote areas (1.3 times). This latter observation is largely due to the fact that non-Indigenous persons had higher rates of serious injury in land transport accidents in non-traffic conditions, many of them off-road motorcycle accidents, and both traffic and non-traffic motorcyclist serious injury rates for non-Indigenous persons increased according to remoteness of usual residence from an urban centre.
- The higher proportion of car passengers relative to car drivers being killed or seriously injured among Indigenous persons, suggests a higher average number of passengers per vehicle compared to non-Indigenous persons, resulting in more persons injured per crash. National surveys have determined that Indigenous people are more likely than non-Indigenous people to have difficulty getting to places, due to a lack of access to a motor vehicle or public transport, and that the Indigenous households most likely to be without a vehicle were those in remote and very remote areas.