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ACCIDENTS, INJURIES AND FATALITIES
Road traffic crashes
Crashes involving fatalities
The number of fatal road traffic crashes in 2008 (1,342) fell by 111 compared with 2007 (table 24.20). Between 2007 and 2008 fatal crashes in the Northern Territory rose by 43%, while South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia recorded the greatest falls of 19%, 13% and 12% respectively.
The number of people killed was lower in 2008 (1,464) compared with 2007 (1,603) a fall of 9%. The number of people killed in the Northern Territory increased from 58 in 2007 to 75 in 2008, a rise of 29%. The number of people killed in the Australian Capital Territory remained unchanged for both years (14), while all the states recorded fewer people killed, with South Australia having the greatest fall (20%).
Road traffic fatalities
The number of deaths from road traffic crashes per 100,000 persons fell from 7.6 in 2007 to 6.9 in 2008. In 1970 the rate was 30.4. Road deaths per 100,000 persons in the Northern Territory in 2008 (34.1) was significantly higher than the national rate (table 24.21). The Australian Capital Territory had the lowest rate of road deaths (4.1 per 100,000 persons) in 2008. South Australia recorded the greatest decrease in road deaths per 100,000 persons, from 7.8 in 2007 to 6.2 in 2008 (a fall of 21%), followed by Western Australia (13%) and Tasmania (12%).
The Northern Territory had the highest number of fatalities per 10,000 registered vehicles (6.1) in 2008, an increase of 24% compared with 2007. Between 2007 and 2008 fatalities per 10,000 registered vehicles fell the most in South Australia, from 1.1 to 0.8, a fall of 21%.
Road fatalities and fatality rates - 1926 to 2008
Australian road fatalities for the period 1926 to 2008 are shown in graph 24.22. Road fatalities per 10,000 registered vehicles and 100,000 persons for the same period are shown in graph 24.23. Until 1970, each year other than during the Great Depression and World War 2 had seen a steady growth in motor vehicle ownership and a corresponding increase in road deaths. By 1970 the number of vehicles had increased twelve-fold over the number in 1926 and the road toll had increased about four times to reach its highest mark of 3,798 deaths. The number of fatalities per 100,000 people also peaked in 1970 at 30.4. The road toll in 2008 of 1,464 was around 40% of the 1970 figure, while the number of fatalities per 100,000 people (6.9) for 2008 was slightly less than a quarter of that of 1970. Also, while there were eight road fatalities per 10,000 registered vehicles in 1970, this rate has decreased to one in 2008.
24.22 Road fatalities
24.23 Road fatality rates
Characteristics of fatal crashes
Two characteristics of fatal crashes for 2003 and 2008 are shown in table 24.24.
In both 2003 and 2008 most of fatal crashes occurred on roads where the posted speed limit was 100 kilometres per hour (km/h) and above (42% in 2008), followed by roads with a speed limit of up to 60 km/h (35%). A further 23% of fatal crashes occurred on roads with speed zones of between 65 km/h and 95 km/h.
In both 2003 and 2008 the highest proportion of fatal crashes was single vehicle crashes (44% and 49% respectively). Pedestrian crashes accounted for 16% of crash types in 2003 and 14% in 2008.
International comparisons of road traffic deaths
Australian road traffic deaths are compared with those for other selected OECD nations in table 24.25. Australia's rate of 7.6 road deaths per 100,000 persons in 2007 is considerably lower than the rates of Poland (14.7), the United States of America (13.6), the Republic of (South) Korea (12.7) and New Zealand (10.0). Australia's rate is, however, markedly higher than Japan and Sweden (both 5.2), Switzerland (5.1) and the United Kingdom (5.0).
Australia's rate of road deaths per 10,000 registered vehicles (1.1) was below the OECD median (1.2). For the countries listed, the Republic of (South) Korea has the highest death rate per 10,000 registered vehicles (3.2).
The number of fatalities per 100 million vehicle-kilometres travelled in Australia in 2007 (0.7) was the same as the OECD median (0.7).
Between 1999 and 2008 the number of aircraft involved in accidents declined by 21%, from 180 in 1999 to 143 in 2008, with a low of 92 in 2006 (graph 24.26). The number of aircraft involved in fatal accidents remained the same for both 1999 and 2008 (22), with a low of 10 in 2002. In 2008 there were 36 fatalities involving registered civil aircraft, compared with 22 in 2007. In 2008 there were 143 accidents of which 22 were fatal accidents, compared with 120 accidents of which 13 were fatal in 2007.
24.26 Air accidents, fatalities and fatal accidents(a)