Non-fatal crash study supports road safety

New research for peak body Austroads aims to improve the measurement and reporting of serious injury road crashes by matching police crash data and hospital data.

Neither crash data nor hospital data alone is adequate for reporting progress against the National Road Safety Strategy’s target of reducing serious injuries by 30 per cent, says Professor James Harrison, director of the Research Centre for Injury Studies at Flinders University, who worked on a pilot project to kickstart the new research.

“Road safety agencies know that they should take account of non-fatal injury cases as well as fatal ones when monitoring and managing road safety,” Professor Harrison says.

“However, they have been constrained by the lack of good quality data on non-fatal cases.”

Road transport agencies recognise that linking hospital and police data is integral to future reporting, as demonstrated by the results of the NSW linked data study conducted by Transport for NSW in 2017.

The pilot study was designed to provide a proof-of-concept for a national approach to source and analyse data related to non-fatal hospitalised road injuries.

It analysed data for NSW, Victoria, Queensland, and South Australia, identifying 30,803 hospitalised non-fatal road injury cases in 2014.

Of these, 19,854 (64.5 per cent) were paired crash and hospital records and 10,949 were from hospital data alone.

Comparisons of the values from the study and from jurisdictions varied significantly, except for NSW the only state to have previously linked their data.

The Austroads report recommends proceeding to stage 2 to produce a series from 2008 to the latest year of data available, and with the aim of including all Australian jurisdictions.

The study used record linkage methods, combining crash data from police and insurers with hospital case data and deaths data.

Stage 2 of the research will be explained by Professor Harrison and Dr Angela Watson in a free Austroads webinar on 4 April, 1pm AEST. Registrations are required.

Professor Harrison is a co-author in a new paper, ‘Road user behaviour, attitudes and crashes: a survey of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia‘ just published in the BMJ Open journal Injury Prevention (doi: 10.1136/injuryprev-2018-043011).

The Research Centre for Injury Studies, based at the Mark Oliphant Building at Flinders University, operates the National Injury Surveillance Unit of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The public health surveillance of injury at the national level supports injury prevention and control and provides much of the statistical information on which injury prevention policy and programs in Australia rely.

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College of Medicine and Public Health