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Comparison of fatalities from work related motor vehicle traffic incidents in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States
  1. T Driscoll1,
  2. S Marsh2,
  3. B McNoe3,
  4. J Langley3,
  5. N Stout2,
  6. A-M Feyer4,
  7. A Williamson5
  1. 1ELMATOM Pty Ltd and School of Public Health, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia
  2. 2National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Morgantown, WV, USA
  3. 3Injury Prevention Research Unit, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, New Zealand
  4. 4Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, New Zealand; and Health Advisory Practice, PriceWaterhouseCoopers
  5. 5NSW Injury Risk Management Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr T Driscoll
 ELMATOM Pty Ltd and School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Australia, 49 Taleeban Road, Riverview NSW 2066, Australia;


Objective: To compare the extent and characteristics of motor vehicle traffic incidents on public roads resulting in fatal occupational injuries in Australia, New Zealand (NZ), and the United States (US).

Design and setting: Information came from separate data sources in Australia (1989–92), NZ (1985–98), and the US (1989–92).

Methods: Using data systems based on vital records, distributions and rates of fatal injuries resulting from motor vehicle traffic incidents were compared for the three countries. Common inclusion criteria and occupation and industry classifications were used to maximize comparability.

Results: Motor vehicle traffic incident related deaths accounted for 16% (NZ), 22% (US), and 31% (Australia) of all work related deaths during the years covered by the studies. Australia had a considerably higher crude rate (1.69 deaths/100 000 person years; 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.54 to 1.83) compared with both NZ (0.99; 95% CI 0.85 to 1.12) and the US (0.92; 95% CI 0.89 to 0.94). Industry distribution differences accounted for only a small proportion of this variation in rates. Case selection issues may have accounted for some of the remainder, particularly in NZ. In all three countries, male workers, older workers, and truck drivers were at higher risk.

Conclusions: Motor vehicle traffic incidents are an important cause of work related death of workers in Australia, NZ, and the US. The absolute rates appear to differ between the three countries, but most of the incident characteristics were similar. Lack of detailed data and inconsistencies between the data sets limit the extent to which more in-depth comparisons could be made.

  • occupational
  • international comparison
  • road
  • vehicle

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  • The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.