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 2014 and 2018, there were 895 deaths due to transport-related injuries.2

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 7.05% of transport-related injuries were Aboriginal people.2,3

Where does it occur?

In Western Australia between 2015 and 2019, the regions with the largest difference in hospitalisation rates 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 (Risk / Protective Factors)

Social Determinants

Income and socioeconomic status
Residents in lower socioeconomic areas experience much higher rates of death and hospitalisation due to transport-related injuries. It has been suggested that this is due to more exposure to risky driving environments and behaviours.5

Environmental, Community and Organisational Determinants

Road design
Many factors that makeup road design affect how safe that road is for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. Aspects that increase safety include:

  • Presence of roundabouts instead of right-hand turns
  • Sealed roads, particularly in rural areas
  • Barriers to separate traffic
  • Speed limits.6

Behavioural and Individual Determinants

Drink driving
Drink driving, that is with blood alcohol content (BAC) level of over 0.05gm% results in significant impairment of driving skills and is therefore the legal limit for all fully licensed drivers.6

Drug driving
Similar to drink driving, there are numerous drugs other than alcohol that can impair a person’s ability to drive and increase their risk of crashing.7

Speeding is the most common problematic behaviour of drivers. The risk of crashing and the severity of injury increase with higher speeds of travel and is therefore a serious risk.6

Seatbelts and child restraint use
Seatbelts and child restraints prevent people from moving too far in the event of a crash and therefore dramatically reduce the likelihood of injury.6

Driver fatigue
Driver fatigue is known to be an important determinant of road crashes.6

Young drivers (aged 17 to 24) are known to have a greater risk of crashing even with lower BAC levels due to the combination of their lack of driving experience, as well as alcohol consumed.6

Driver distraction significantly contributes to road crashes. Adequate concentration is required to avoid hazards and anticipate actions. Approximately 15% to 20% of driver distractions involve people using technology while driving.8

Effective Interventions

Legislation, Policies, Standards and Codes of Practice

Road safety legislation
Western Australia has legislation that determines appropriate behaviour around each of the behavioural determinants listed in the previous section. For example,

  • Drink/drug driving: For a full licence holder, it is an offence to drive with a BAC level equal to or exceeding 0.05gm%.6
  • Speeding: All public roads in Western Australia have speed limits ranging from 40km/h to 110km/h.6
  • Seatbelt use: Everyone inside a motor vehicle must be wearing a seatbelt at all times and all vehicles must have a seatbelt fitted in every seating position.6
  • Child restraints: All children must be adequately secured with child restraints or seatbelts. Drivers are legally responsible for all passengers under the age of 16.6
  • Fatigue: Reckless driving legislation refers generally to driver behaviour that may be dangerous to the public through a general lack of care, such as driving tired.6
  • Age: There is a mandatory probationary period of two years for new drivers, during which drivers are not permitted BAC level of any amount.6
  • Distractions: Drivers are not permitted to be using technology, such as phones, while driving.6

Penalties apply to those who do not adhere to this legislation.

Western Australian example

The Western Australian Police are directly responsible for enforcing the Western Australian Road Traffic Act 1975 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

Western Australian example

The Department of Transport, WA are responsible for the development and implementation of policies relating to licensing of motor vehicle drivers. This includes the training program that all drivers must go through in order to become licensed driver.6

Environmental, Community and Organisational Initiatives

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.9

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 12:30am and 3am on Saturday and Sundays to encourage use of public transport.10

Safe road design
Road design considerations and strategies such as classifying roads, setting speed limits improving single-lane carriageways can make a significant contribution to the prevention of transport-related injuries.11

Western Australian Example

Austroads Guide to Road Design is a framework for road designers that promote efficiency in design, construction to ensure consistency and safety for road users and should be used in conjunction with relevant state requirements.12

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.5

Western Australian Example

“Driving Change” is the Western Australian strategy for road safety for 2020-2030. The strategy’s target is to “reduce the number of people fatally, severely or seriously injured by 50-70% by 2030, and to zero by 2050.” 13

“Shine a Light on Road Safety” is a campaign aimed at raising awareness among Western Australians to prevent deaths and injuries due to road trauma.

Group and Individual Initiatives

Use of seatbelts and child restraints
Child car restraints are an effective strategy for reducing injury to children as a result of a road crash.6

Western Australian Example

In addition to checking the installation of child car restraints in cars, Kidsafe WA provide training to professionals on how to fit restraints into a car.14

Grief counselling for people affected by road trauma is available through a variety of providers.15

Western Australian Example

Through the Road Trauma Support WA service, Injury Matters offer grief counselling as well as a variety of support and peer groups aimed at people who have caused, been involved with a crash or had family or friends affected by road trauma.15

Key stakeholders in Western Australia

Other Resources

Injury Matters Evidence Bank – Transport resources

Know Injury, ‘youth transport’ webinar recording

Driving Change, Road Safety Strategy for Western Australia 2020-2030

WA Road Safety Commission, Towards Zero: Western Australia road safety strategy 2008-2020

Kidsafe WA, Bicycle-related Injuries Childhood Injury Bulletin

WA Road Safety Commission, Reported road crashes in Western Australia 2015

Royal Perth Hospital, Admissions to Royal Perth Hospital due to road trauma 2010 to 2019

Royal Perth Hospital, Admissions to Royal Perth Hospital from pedal cycle injuries 2010 to 2019

Royal Perth Hospital, Quad bike accidents requiring admission to Royal Perth Hospital 2010 to 2019

Royal Perth Hospital, Easter road trauma admissions 2010 to 2019

Royal Perth Hospital, International visitors admissions due to road trauma 2010 to 2019

WALGA, Senior Road Safety Consultant Update January-February 2020

AIHW, Trends in serious injury due to road vehicle traffic crashes, Australia 2001 to 2010

Australian Transport Council, National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020

WHO, Global status report on road safety 2015

WA Road Safety Commission, Keeping Your Mob Safe: A Guide to Making Roads Safer in Your Community

RAC, Driving Animations

Austroads, Learning to Drive handbook

WA Department of Health, Injury Prevention in Western Australia: A Review of Statewide Activity for Selected Injury Areas

WA Department of Health, Incidence and Costs of Injury in Western Australia 2012

WALGA Roadwise, Fact Sheets and Resources

Know Injury, 2015 falls fact sheet (2007 – 2011 data)

Know Injury, Quad Bike Safety toolkit


1 Journey Beyond Road Trauma: Teacher Awareness Kit (2011). Journey Beyond Road Trauma, Retrieved from
2 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.

3 Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016, ‘Western Australia, People’, viewed 5 September 2017, <>
5 Department of Health, Western Australia. Injury prevention in Western Australia: A review of statewide activity. Perth; Chronic Disease Prevention Directorate, Department of Health. 2015.
6 Arena, G., Cordova, S., Gavine, A., Palamara, P. & Rimajova, M. Injury in Western Australia: a review of best practice, stakeholder activity, legislation and recommendations. Perth: Injury Research Centre, The University of Western Australia, 2002.
7 Drug driving, (2021) Road Safety Commission. Retrieved from
8 Distractions, (2021) Road Safety Commission, Retrieved from
9 World Health Organization (2013) Global Status Report on Road Safety. Retrieved from
10 Late Night Services (2015) Transperth. Retrieved from
11 World Health Organization. Implementing specific interventions to prevent road traffic injuries. Retried from
12 Austroads (2015). Guide to Road Design. Retrieved from
13 Driving Change (2020) Road Safety Commission. Retrieved from
14 Shine a Light on Road Safety (2015) Road Trauma Support WA. Retrieved from
15 Child Car Restraints (2008) Kidsafe WA. Retrieved from
16 Counselling (2013) Road Trauma Support WA. Retrieved from

Printable Fact sheet

Click here to download a printable version of the Transport-related injuries fact sheet