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Marion Downey
UNSW National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre
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Car accidents accounted for the majority of the serious injuries sustained by almost one billion people worldwide in 2013, according to new research released today.

The study also found that the global toll taken by injuries on daily life has fallen by almost a third in the past quarter of a century, with the largest declines seen in road injuries in Australasia and Western Europe.

The Global Burden of Diseases and Injuries, and Risk Factors (GBD) study was published today in the journal Injury Prevention.

Researchers found car crashes still accounted for the majority (29%) of the injury burden, followed by self-harm, which includes suicide (17.6%); falls (11.6%); and violence (8.5%), accounting for 10% of the global toll of disease.

Professor Louisa Degenhardt from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at UNSW is a member of an international consortium of researchers working on the GBD project.

Professor Degenhardt said the burden of injuries, measured by years of life lost to death, and years of life lived with a disability has decreased significantly over the last three decades.

“Despite the overall decrease, we found some notable variations, especially among different regions,” said Professor Degenhardt.

Injury burden among under-15 year-olds was lowest in Western Europe and highest in central Sub-Saharan Africa.

Among 15 to 49 year olds, the peak age category for road traffic injuries, there was an eightfold difference in rates between high income Asia Pacific and western Sub-Saharan Africa, while rates were 70% higher in North America than in Western Europe, Australasia and Asia Pacific.

“The injury burden remains high in some parts of the world, however looking at the results globally we can say that overall the world is becoming a safer place to live in,” said Professor Degenhardt.

Read the full NDARC media release here