In 2016, Australia had 1,086 road deaths per 100,000 population, but only 9% of those deaths were attributable to road traffic, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
In contrast, the US had 6,858 road deaths for every 100,00 people, with about 70% of them attributable to traffic.
The statistics were compiled using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Australian statistics on road deaths have been notoriously hard to come by, and even more so when compared to the US.
While statistics on fatalities are only available for the last three years, they have a long history of being inaccurate.
Since 1994, the Australian government has been trying to improve its data, but there is a long way to go.
Between 2006 and 2020, the ABS counted more than 11,000 people killed in road crashes in Australia, and in 2017-18 the figure jumped to 15,811.
In 2018-19, the number of road deaths in Australia fell by about 50%, to 8,521.
But that’s not enough to make the number any less alarming.
In 2018, a total of 3,982 people died on Australian roads, while more than 14,500 people were injured, according the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
So, despite the fact that Australian roads are not faring any worse than they were just a decade ago, it’s important to remember that Australia is still a very dangerous place to live, and that the number is far higher than many would have us believe.
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The latest figures on road death are still in the preliminary stages, but a range of factors are likely to be contributing to the rise in road deaths over the past decade.
One factor is the rise of urbanisation in Australia.
While urbanisation tends to reduce the number and severity of traffic fatalities, it also leads to more people driving in cities and less time for roads to be maintained.
More recently, there has been a decrease in the number driving in remote and rural areas, as well as a rise in the proportion of drivers who drive on urban streets, according for the Australian National University.
A more significant factor, according Dr Dwayne McNeilly from the University of NSW, is the increase in people being exposed to the toxic chemical benzene in their breath, which can cause cancer, heart disease and more.
Another factor is that, in the US, more people are getting behind the wheel.
According to the National Cancer Institute, the average driver in the country today is 55 years old, compared to 36 years in 1980.
It also suggests that drivers are more likely to drive after drinking alcohol.
And as with the rise and fall of road traffic fatalities in Australia in recent years, there are still plenty of people who are driving with little regard for their own safety.