Road traffic injury mortality

This section presents statistics on road traffic injury deaths, by mode of transport.

Traffic-related deaths and injuries are the main health impact of road transport in New Zealand [1]. Each year 200–400 people die on New Zealand roads.

Results are presented by transport mode. In particular, pedestrians and cyclists can be considered as ‘vulnerable road users’, as they tend to suffer more severe injuries from collisions.

On this page:

The number of traffic deaths has decreased from 1990 to 2015.
Motorcyclists and cyclists were at higher risk of traffic injury mortality per time spent travelling.
Males had higher death rates for traffic injury than females.
Māori had a higher traffic injury mortality rate than non-Māori.
People living in more deprived areas had higher mortality rates of traffic injury.
There were large DHB differences in traffic injury mortality rates.

The number of traffic deaths has decreased from 1990 to 2015

In 2015, there were 319 deaths due to traffic injuries. This included 232 vehicle occupant deaths, 53 motorcyclist deaths, 25 pedestrian deaths and six cyclist deaths.

The number of traffic deaths has decreased from 1990 to 2015 for all modes of transport.

Figure 1: 

Motorcyclists and cyclists were at higher risk of traffic injury mortality per time spent travelling

In 2011-2013, for every ten million hours travelled, there were 66.7 motorcyclist and 3.2 cyclist deaths, compared to 1.6 vehicle occupant and 1.5 pedestrian deaths (Figure 2).

Figure 2

Over time, the risk of road traffic injury mortality per time travelled has decreased for vehicle occupants, pedestrians and cyclists. However, the mortality risk for motorcyclists increased from 2004-2006 to 2011-2013 (from 53 deaths per ten million hours, to 67 deaths per ten million hours).

Males had higher death rates for road traffic injury

During 2004-2013, males had significantly higher death rates than females for pedestrian, cyclist, motorcyclist and vehicle occupant injuries (Figure 3).

The death rate was especially high for male motorcyclists compared to females (1.8 vs 0.1 per 100,000 population).

Figure 3:

Māori had higher death rates for pedestrian and vehicle occupant injuries

In 2004-2013, Māori had significantly higher death rates for pedestrian and vehicle occupant injuries than non-Māori.

Compared to non-Māori, the Māori death rate was 2.8 times as high (1.7 vs 0.6 per 100,000 population) for pedestrian injury and 2.6 times as high (13.4 vs 5.2 per 100,000 population) for vehicle occupant injury (Figure 4).

Figure 4:

Higher road traffic injury mortality rates in more deprived areas

In 2010-2013, injury mortality rates for vehicle occupants, pedestrians and motorcyclists generally increased with the socioeconomic deprivation (Figure 5).

Figure 5: 

Large DHB differences in all traffic injury mortality

In 2004-2013, West Coast District Health Board (DHB) had the highest mortality rate for all traffic injuries, followed by Northland DHB (Figure 6). In comparison, Auckland DHB had the lowest rate.

Compared to the national traffic injury mortality rate, the rate was significantly higher in Northland, Waikato, Lakes, Bay of Plenty, Tairawhiti, Taranaki, Hawke's Bay, Whanganui, MidCentral, West Coast and South Canterbury DHBs.

The traffic injury mortality rate was significantly lower than the national rate in Waitemata, Auckland, Counties Manukau, Hutt Valley, Capital and Coast, Canterbury and Southern DHBs.

Figure 6:

In 2004-2013, West Coast DHB had the highest rate of pedestrian injury mortality, while Hutt Valley DHB had the lowest rate.

Information about the data

Road traffic injury mortality

Source: 

  • New Zealand road toll, Ministry of Transport
  • New Zealand Mortality Collection, Ministry of Health
  • New Zealand Household Travel Survey, Ministry of Transport. 

Definition: The number and rate of road traffic injury mortality, by mode of transport.  ‘All traffic injuries’ included occupant injury, motorcyclist injury, pedestrian injury, cyclist injury, other injury and unspecified injury.

For more information about this indicator, see our metadata sheet. For more information on the annual road toll, visit the Ministry of Transport's webpage on the Road toll.

References

1. Briggs, D., Mason, K., Borman, B. 2016. Rapid assessment of environmental health impacts for policy support: The example of road transport in New ZealandInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 13: 61.