understanding road accidents in Australia

Understanding Road Accidents Statistics in Australia [2024]

As motorcycle riders, it's important to know the stats behind road accidents. While bikers are some of the most at-risk people on the road, you can help stack the odds back in your favour by understanding the main causes of road crashes.

We've put this article together to make sure the risk-takers of the world can stay safe while continuing to do what they love. By understanding the trends and factors influencing road safety, you can can stay one step ahead of the game every time you ride.

Overview of Road Accident Statistics (2018-2023)

guy zipping up jacket

2023 saw the highest number of road fatalities in 5 years. The 2023 death toll was 1,266, which is the highest since 2018. While the last few years have seen a slight rise in deaths, national fatalities have remained largely flat over the past decade.

The statistics for motorcycle riders can be confronting. Bikers are about 30 times more likely to crash compared to car drivers. Statistics show that single vehicle motorcycle crashes are most likely to occur in regional areas, while intersection crashes are most likely to occur in metro areas.

In the last five years, almost 200 motorcyclists were killed in Victoria alone. Of these, 96% were male and 57% were over the age of 40. Additionally, 57% of the people in this figure lost their lives within metro Melbourne.

From 2011-2020, there were a total of 2081 motorcyclist deaths across the entire country. This is why public service ads stress the importance of wearing a helmet and proper motorcycle clothing every time you ride.

Here are some key statistics for Australian roads:

  • 64% of surveyed Australians with a full driver's licence have experienced a car crash.

  • Police reports indicate that speed contributes to about 1 in 3 fatal accidents.

  • The most statistically probable fatality is a male driver aged between 40-64.

  • In the last five years, almost 200 motorcycle riders and pillion passengers have been killed on Victorian roads. 96% were male.

  • In Victoria, 35% of motorcycle crashes happen on roads with a speed limit of 100km/h or higher.

Common Causes of Car Accidents

Speeding and Its Impact on Road Accidents

It should come as no surprise that speed causes car crashes, but what exactly do the statistics tell us? Over the last five years, around 236 people have been killed on Victorian roads each year, with excessive speed a factor in many accidents.

Research from the Road Accident Research Unit of the University of Adelaide reveals that the risk of being involved in a fatality doubles with each 5km/h increase in speed when travelling over 60km/h. Their research tells us that just a 5km/h reduction in speed can lead to at least a 15% reduction in crashes and significantly less injuries sustained.

Distracted Driving and Its Consequences

Distracted driving is another big factor in road accidents. Research in Australia has shown that distracted driving is a main contributing factor in 16% of serious road casualties.

There are several types of driving distractions:

  • Cognitive distractions like talking, arguing or daydreaming

  • Visual distractions like looking at your phone

  • Physical distractions that cause you to take your hands off the wheel. Eating, drinking, changing the radio etc.

Approximately 60% of road users have admitted to using a phone that isn't hands-free while driving. Texting increases the risk of a crash or near-crash by up to 15 times for car drivers.

Fatigued Driving and Road Safety

Fatigued driving is perhaps the most under-appreciated cause of car accidents. While a difficult statistic to measure, it's believed that 20 to 30 per cent of all car crashes in Australia are at least partly attributable to fatigue.

Most people are guilty of fighting through sleepiness while operating a car. While it can be a difficult situation to avoid, you're always better off pulling over than forging ahead and hoping for the best. Just a quick 15 minute power nap can be refreshing enough to improve your cognition.

Fatigue can seem like a minor problem, but being tired is a whopping four times more likely than drugs or alcohol to cause impairment on the road.

Drink Driving and Its Contribution to Road Fatalities

Drink driving is one of the biggest tragedies on Australian roads because it's such an avoidable problem. Drink driving can cause issues with perception, vision, concentration, reaction time, and drowsiness. 1 in 5 drivers killed on Australian roads had a blood alcohol concentration of .05 or higher.

Many drivers make the mistake of believing they can get away with just a few drinks, but the effects of alcohol can creep up very easily. Consider things like your individual tolerance, weight, what you've eaten, and when you plan to drive carefully when considering a drink on days you also plan to drive.

Regional Analysis of Road Death Toll

Road Death Toll by State (2023)

Victoria: The 2023 death toll was 299, up 24.1% from the previous year.

Adelaide: The 2023 death toll was 117, up from 71 the previous year.

Queensland: There were 277 fatalities in 2023, which is 20 fatalities (or 6.7%) fewer than the year before.

Australian Capital Territory: There were 28 road deaths in 2023, a 45.1% drop from the year before.

New South Wales: The 2023 road toll was 354, up from 286 the year before.

Tasmania: The 2023 road toll was 30, a 44.4% drop from the year before.

Notable Trends in Road Fatalities

As we've already mentioned, 2023 was the deadliest year on Australian roads in the last half decade. It should be mentioned that significant progress has been made towards road safety in the long term. In the early 1990s, more than 2,000 Australians a year were losing their lives in car accidents, while the 2023 death toll was 1,266.

However, the past few years have shown an alarming setback in overall accidents. The past three years have seen consecutive rises in road deaths. The post-pandemic period has shown an increase in risky driving behaviour, although it is unclear whether there is a relationship between post-covid traffic and increased fatalities.

Across Australia, the number of fatal crashes in 70-80km/h zones has been rising. There were 241 such deaths in 2020, while 2022 saw this number jump to 315.

The number of accidents involving people driving without a licence has also risen in recent years, along with cyclist and motorcyclists not wearing helmets, which increased by 47% from 2019 to 2021.

One of the most worrying trends is the increased risk for the 17-25 age group, which recently became the highest-risk fatality group on the roads, surpassing the 75+ age group.

In-Depth Analysis of Speed-Related Accidents

riding through mud

Speed Zones and Their Correlation with Road Deaths

It's probably not surprising to hear that most accidents happen within higher speed zones. In Western Australia, 47% of fatal crashes in 2020 occurred within speed zones over 110km/h. Conversely, speed zones less than 50km/h accounted for only 13 per cent of Australian road deaths in 2021.

As we've already mentioned, the risk of being involved in a casualty doubles with each 5km/h increase above 60km/h. Research has shown that slower speeds would lead directly to a decreased death toll on the roads. According to the Monash University Accident Research Centre, reducing speeds by 11% would reduce road deaths by 40%.

Comparative Analysis of Speeding-Related Fatalities

Speeds can have a drastic difference when it comes to fatalities and serious injuries. For example, a pedestrian hit at a speed of 30km/h has a 90% chance of surviving, but only a 10% chance at 50km/h.

It seems obvious to mention, but the faster you're travelling means the longer it will take to stop. If you're driving at 50km/h, it takes roughly 37 metres to stop. When driving at 60km/h, it will now take 56 metres to stop. That's only a difference of 10km/h in speed, but it almost doubles the time it takes to stop a car.

The statistics on speeding show that young people are at the highest risk. Drivers between the age of 17 and 25 are the most likely to break the legal limit. 80 per cent of young drivers killed are male, while a third of all drivers and passengers in fatal speeding accidents are aged between 17 and 25.

Public Perception and Driving Habits

Survey Results on Leading Causes of Car Accidents

When Australians were surveyed on what they believed to be the leading causes of car accidents, speeding was voted as the most likely cause. Here is what the complete results looked like:

  1. Speeding

  2. Distracted driving

  3. Tailgating/aggressive driving

  4. Driving drunk

  5. Driving tired

  6. Failing to give way

  7. Driving through red lights

  8. Poorly designed roads/intersections

Speeding is in fact the number one cause of car accidents, however most people failed to recognise that drink driving and fatigued driving are often two of the most common causes.

Driving Habits and Frequency of Congested Roads

Most Australians drive on congested roads on a regular basis. While car accidents are more likely to occur close to home, it's important to recognise that congestion can still lead to accidents. When surveyed, almost half of respondents said they drive on congested roads at least once a week, and one in 10 said every single day.

It's been proven that traffic congestion can lead to aggressive driving, and motorcyclists are often treated poorly by other drivers even in the best of times. As a biker, you should be aware that drivers may be tense when traffic has built up and therefore have lapses in judgement, so avoid risky manoeuvres if possible.

Safety On The Road

girl on bike

Here are some tips to stay safe on the road while doing what you love:

  • Always wear your moto gear. It's the only thing between you and the ground.

  • Stay sober. Just one or two drinks can significantly affect your reaction time.

  • Be visible. People don't often look out for the biker in their rear view, so wear high-visibility gear, especially at night.

  • Ride within your skill level. Build your bike skills up over time and don't push yourself too far too soon.

  • Stay alert. As a biker, you're about 30 times more likely to crash compared to a car driver, so always be on your A-game.


Taking care of yourself on the road doesn't mean you can't enjoy doing what you love. Rider safety is all about stacking the odds in your favour so you can enjoy the good times with a clear head, knowing that you're ahead of the game.

So while riding has its risks, that's all part of the fun. At SA1NT we pride ourselves on armouring the risk takers of the world, so make sure to gear up properly with our line of stylish, no-nonsense moto gear every time you step on the bike.

Keep safe, ride smart, and remember to have fun out there.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the road accident rate in Australia?

The road accident rate in Australia was 4.54 per 100,000 in 2022. In terms of 2023, the total number of road fatalities was 1,266. The number of road deaths has been steadily increasing over the last few years, and 2023 saw the highest number of fatalities since 2018.

Unsurprisingly, the most common age group for fatalities is people aged between 17 to 25. Young drivers between the age of 17 and 25 are the most likely group to break the legal limit. 80 per cent of young drivers killed are male, while a third of all drivers and passengers in fatal speeding accidents are aged between 17 and 25.

As for motorcyclists, in the last five years almost 200 motorcycle riders have been killed on Victorian roads according to the TAC. 96% of those people were male, and 57% were over the age of 40.

What is the number one cause of car accidents in Australia?

Speeding is the number one cause of car accidents in Australia. Here are the 10 most common causes of car accidents within Australia:

  1. Speeding

  2. Distracted driving

  3. Driving under the influence

  4. Driving while tired

  5. Ignoring traffic signs and signals

  6. Vehicle defects

  7. Poor visibility

  8. Poor road conditions

  9. Collisions with animals

  10. Failure to wear a seatbelt

How many road deaths in Australia 2023?

In 2023, there were 1,266 road deaths in Australia. This was an increase from the previous year, which saw 1,194 road crash deaths. While most states saw an increased number of road fatalities in 2023, Adelaide experienced the sharpest rise, which was a 61.4% increase.

Which Australian state has the most car accidents?

During the past year, New South Wales has experienced the most car accidents compared to any other state. In the year ending in July 2023, there were 334 road deaths recorded in the state.

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