Western Australia Bicycle Helmet Law: Bicycle Injury Hospital Data

Below is West Australian government data concerning the average length of hospital stays by nature of cyclist injuries from 1981 to 1995.

Mandatory bicycle helmet legislation was enforced in Western Australia from 1992.

Some injuries are likely to be more severe than others and therefore more costly in terms of hospital stay. Injuries with a long average length of stay include spinal injuries, lower limb fractures, all other fractures (including multiple fractures) and skull fractures.

The small number of cyclists hospitalised with spinal injuries (0.7% from 1981 to 1995) resulted in large fluctuations in the average length of stay for this injury over time. This was mainly due to a single admission in 1981-1983 with a length of stay of 330 days.

Although intracranial injuries accounted for the largest proportion of bicycle-related injuries, these did not result in a high average length of stay. The highest average lengths of stay, apart from spinal injuries, were from lower limb and other/multiple fractures.

Average length of hospital stay1 by nature of injury

Western Australia, 1981-1995

Injury 1981-1983 1984-1986 1987-1989 1990-1992 1993-1995
Skull fractures 13.1 7.9 7.6 8.4 11.0
Facial 3.6 2.6 2.8 2.4 1.8
Intracranial 2.3 3.0 2.5 2.1 2.2
Other head 2.3 2.0 2.1 2.5 2.6
Spinal2 120.0 24.1 38.0 14.7 15.1
Lower limb fractures 12.3 13.5 12.1 9.1 8.0
Upper limb fractures 2.7 2.5 2.4 2.0 1.6
All other fractures3 13.9 10.8 12.4 11.8 6.7
Dislocations/sprains 2.8 2.5 4.1 3.7 2.5
Superficial 4.8 4.1 4.8 3.6 3.0
Internal 16.3 8.6 8.5 5.6 6.4
Other 4.7 6.3 5.1 4.6 2.5


1 Average length of hospital stay was calculated from the total length of stay for all admissions for the same bicycle crash and the diagnostic category was derived from the major diagnosis of the first admission.

2 Includes one case where the length of stay was 330 days.

3 All other fractures include multiple fractures, excluding those involving head.

Measuring road crash injury severity in Western Australia using ICISS methodology (PDF 232kb) by A. Chapman and D. Rosman from the Department of Health in Western Australia was presented to the Insurance Commission of Western Australia Road Safety 2008 WA Forum. The paper analyses the severity of all road crash injuries in WA from 1988 (pre bike helmet law) to 2006, showing an increase in the severity of cyclist injuries since the helmet law was enforced in 1992.

WA cyclist injury type

Hospital Admissions Data: Percentage Distribution of Cyclists Admitted by Body Region of Injury, Western Australia, 1988 - June 30 1999 (single years) (Source: Bicycle Crashes and Injuries in Western Australia, 1987-2000 - Road Safety report RR131 (PDF 840kb) commissioned by Road Safety Council, dated November 2003 and authored by Lynn B. Meuleners, Arem L. Gavin, L. Rina Cercarelli and Delia Hendrie))

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