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 . 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.
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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.
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.
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).
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).
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).
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).
In 2010-2013, injury mortality rates for vehicle occupants, pedestrians and motorcyclists generally increased with the socioeconomic deprivation (Figure 5).
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.
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
- 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.
1. Briggs, D., Mason, K., Borman, B. 2016. Rapid assessment of environmental health impacts for policy support: The example of road transport in New Zealand. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 13: 61.