How to prevent serious accident

Who’s most at Risk in Australian Car Crashes?

Accurate national level statistics on car crashes in Australia are hard to come by because of differences in the way in which states gather this information. However, the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development collects and reports detailed nationwide statistics on the most severe car crashes on an annual basis*.

This data omits the large proportion of accidents that are not life threatening, such as accidents in parking lots. However, it does provide a good idea of which demographics are most at risk of being involved in serious accidents.

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Residents of Northern Territory

New South Wales is where nearly a third of all Australian road deaths take place. However, this is a reflection of the state’s population size rather than risk to drivers. In reality the Northern Territory has by far the most dangerous roads in Australia. The NT’s fatality rate per 100,000 population in 2016 was almost four times the national average for states and territories.


Men are far more likely to be involved in a serious car accident than women. The average fatal accidents per 100,000 population for men is over 250% more than it is for women. However, it’s not all bad news for male drivers. Men are becoming safer drivers at a faster rate than women and their fatality rate per 100,000 population has decreased by almost a third in the last decade.

The elderly

While young drivers (drivers aged 17 to 25) have a bad reputation and are the primary target of Australian road safety awareness campaigns, they’re not actually the most at-risk age group on the roads. During the course of the last decade they were overtaken by drivers over the age of 75, who are now the most at-risk driver demographic in the country.

People who don’t wear seatbelts

Think that drunk drivers are the most at-risk drivers of them all? Think again. Australian road death statistics show that the most vulnerable road users are those who are not wearing a restraint during an accident. The number of people who died while not wearing a seatbelt in 2016 exceeds the number of fatalities involved in all drunk driving incidents that year.


A review of fatalities per 10,000 registered vehicles indicates that motorcyclists are much more likely to be killed in an accident than the occupants of vehicles. In 2016 the risk of death in an accident for motorcyclists and pinion passengers was approximately six times that of a car occupant.

Staying safe

This snapshot of high-risk road user groups is not intended to suggest that you’ve got nothing to worry about as long as you’re not an elderly motorcycle enthusiast in Darwin. The margins separating the different groups within the demographics discussed are often small, and all road users are at risk of serious accidents if they do not observe road laws and safe driving practises.

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The Road trauma Australia 2016 statistical summary was used to compile this article.