Road traffic injury deaths and hospitalisations

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

Traffic-related deaths and injuries are the main health impact of road transport in New Zealand [1]. The New Zealand Burden of Disease Study found that transport injuries made up about 33% of overall health loss due to all injuries in New Zealand in 2006 [2].

Results are presented by transport mode. Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are more vulnerable road users, as they tend to suffer more severe injuries from collisions. 

The number of traffic deaths increased from 2013 to 2017

In 2017, there were 379 deaths due to traffic injuries. This included 274 vehicle occupant deaths, 46 motorcyclist deaths, 41 pedestrian deaths and 18 cyclist deaths.

The number of traffic deaths increased from 2013 (253 deaths) to 2017 (379 deaths). 

Figure 1: Annual road toll, by mode of transport, 1990-2017

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: Mortality risk per ten million hours travelled, by mode of transport, 2011-2013

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 2005-2014, 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: Road traffic injury mortality, by sex and mode of transport, age-standardised rate per 100,000 population, 2005–2014

Māori had a higher traffic injury mortality rate than non-Māori

In 2005–2014, Māori had significantly higher death rates for vehicle occupant injuries and pedestrian injuries than non-Māori.

Compared to non-Māori, the Māori death rate was 2.6 times as high (12.4 vs 4.8 per 100,000 population) for vehicle occupant injury, and 2.8 times as high (1.7 vs 0.6 per 100,000 population) for pedestrian injury (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Road traffic injury mortality, by Māori/non-Māori and mode of transport, age-standardised rate per 100,000 population, 2005–2014

People living in more deprived areas had higher mortality rates of traffic injury 

In 2010–2014, traffic injury mortality rates for vehicle occupants, pedestrians and motorcyclists generally increased with the socioeconomic deprivation (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Road traffic injury mortality, by NZDep2013 quintile and mode of transport, age-standardised rate per 100,000 population, 2010–2014

Large DHB differences in all traffic injury mortality

In 2009–2014, West Coast, Tairawhiti and South Canterbury District Health Board (DHB) had the highest mortality rates for all traffic injuries (Figure 6). 

Figure 6: All traffic injury mortality, by District Health Board, age-standardised rate per 100,000 population, 2009–2014

Road traffic injury hospitalisations increased from 2014 to 2018

In 2018, there were 4,363 hospitalisations for road traffic injuries in New Zealand. This included 2,667 vehicle occupant injuries, 996 motorcyclist injuries, 438 pedestrian injuries and 215 cyclist injuries. The remaining 47 hospitalisations were for other modes of transport.

The hospitalisation rate for all road traffic injuries increased from 2014 to 2018 (Figure 7).  

Figure 7: Road traffic injury hospitalisations by mode of transport, age-standardised rate per 100,000 population, 2001–2018

Māori and Pacific peoples had higher rates of road traffic injury hospitalisations

In 2018, Māori had significantly higher hospitalisation rates for vehicle occupant and motorcyclist injuries than other ethnic groups (Figure 8). Māori and Pacific people also had higher rates of pedestrian injury.

Figure 8: Road traffic injury hospitalisations, by prioritised ethnic group and mode of transport, age-standardised rate per 100,000 population, 2018

Higher rates of traffic injury hospitalisations in more deprived areas

In 2018, hospitalisation rates for vehicle occupant, motorcyclist and pedestrian injuries were higher for people living in more socioeconomically deprived areas (Figure 9). There was a particularly strong contrast in the hospitalisation rates for vehicle occupants between the least and most deprived quintiles.

Figure 9: Road traffic injury hospitalisations, by NZDep2013 quintile and mode of transport, age-standardised rate per 100,000 population, 2018

Large DHB differences in traffic injury hospitalisations

In 2018, Northland District Health Board (DHB) had the highest rates of traffic injury hospitalisations (Figure 10). In comparison, Capital and Coast DHB had the lowest rate.

Figure 10: Road traffic injury hospitalisations by DHB, age-standardised rate per 100,000 population, 2018

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 hospitalisations, by mode of transport.  ‘All traffic injuries’ included occupant injury (injury of driver or passenger of three or four-wheeled motor vehicles), 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.

Road traffic injury hospitalisations

Source:

  • National Minimum Dataset (NMDS), Ministry of Health

Definition: The number and rate of road traffic injury hospitalisations, by mode of transport.  ‘All traffic injuries’ included occupant injury (injury of driver or passenger of three or four-wheeled motor vehicles), motorcyclist injury, pedestrian injury, cyclist injury, other injury and unspecified injury.

For more information, see the metadata sheets in the download box. 

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.

2. Ministry of Health and ACC. 2013. Injury-related Health Loss: A report from the New Zealand Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study 2006–2016. Wellington: Ministry of Health. 

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