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BITRE publishes latest annual road trauma report

Fluctuation upward recently unwelcome but long-term trend is right way


The debate on truck fatalities has gained another shot of facts with the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) releasing its Road trauma involving heavy vehicles, 2015 statistical summary report.

The bottom line is that between 1989 and 2015, articulated truck fatalities fell from 335 to 114.

For heavy rigids, with figures only available from 2004, the fall is 108 to 80.

In the 10 years to 2015, the figures are 168 to 114 and, less impressively for rigids, 80 to 80 after touching 97 in 2012.

For the five years to 2015, that is 140 to 114 and 72 to 80.

This is despite there being more trucks on the road.

“When standardised by vehicle registration counts, the rates of annual fatal crashes involving heavy vehicles have trended down consistently,” the researchers say.

“Over the last decade, heavy vehicle involved fatal crash rates per billion vehicle kilometres travelled (VKT) decreased in all three heavy vehicle categories.”

Heavy vehicle involved fatal crash rates per 10,000 heavy vehicles registrations are down, from 48.7 to 10.6 and for heavy rigids 3.4 to 2.2 since 2004.

In the 10 years to 2015, the figures are 19.9 to 10.6 and 2.5 to 2.2.

For the five years to 2015, that is 14.4 to 10.6 and 1.9 to 2.2.

Registered heavy articulated totals nationally rose from 51,100 in 1991 to 94,975 in 2015.

For heavy rigids, that was 334,900 to 331.699, with a period below 300,000 between 1996 and 2008.

Also rising since 1989 has been billion estimated vehicle kilometres travelled, from 4.05 to 8.07 in 2015 for articulated trucks and 6.73 and 10.06 for rigids.

While fatalities are down, the hospitalisation rate has risen.

Between 2005-06 and 2011-12 – the following years not being directly comparable due to data collection changes – the change in totals was 605 to 746 for heavy vehicle drivers and their passengers, including in buses.

Interestingly, the rise held for other road users, from 807 to 917.

As a percentage of all road crash hospitalisations, maximum fluctuations were 0.3 per cent either side of the 4.8 per cent mark.

Over the last 10 years, total annual deaths from crashes involving heavy vehicles decreased by 19.8 per cent. The estimated trend over the decade is a reduction of 3.2 per cent per year

For fatality crashes involving articulated trucks, 75.4 per cent of deaths occur in multiple vehicle crashes, 16.7 per cent in single vehicle crashes and 7.9 per cent in pedestrian involved crashes.

The proportions for crashes involving heavy rigid trucks are 82.5 per cent, 6.3 per cent and 11.3 per cent respectively.

Three key crash types measured are ‘intersection’ crashes, ‘head-on’ crashes and ‘single vehicle run-off road’ crashes.

Between 2008 and 2014, 1.6 per cent of the articulated truck drivers did not have a valid licence in fatal crashes. The proportion of the heavy rigid truck drivers without a valid licence involved in fatal crashes is 2.3 per cent and for bus drivers, it is 1.4 per cent.

Further crash analysis shows that the most common crash sub-types are ‘opposing direction – head-on’ (34 per cent), ‘pedestrian involved’ (13.4 per cent) and ‘same direction – rear-end’ (10 per cent).

Analysing crashes by geographical region, 74.3 per cent of fatal articulated truck involved crashes occur in a regional area. For fatal heavy rigids, it is 53.3 per cent.

Between 2008 and 2014, 51.9 per cent occurred on national or state highways.

For articulated trucks, the proportions of fatalities in each are 16.4 per cent, 33.6 per cent and 12.1 per cent respectively. For heavy rigid trucks, they are 32.2 per cent, 29.9 per cent and 4.6 per cent.

The full report can be found here.

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