The Cost of Transport Injuries in Canada

Author(s): Cowle, Rajabali, Pike, Fuselli
Dr. Charles H. Miller Award

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Injury is the leading cause of death for Canadians ages one to 44 and the third-leading cause of death overall. To capture the burden of injury at a societal level, Parachute published the Cost of Injury in Canada 2021 report highlighting major causes of injury, including transport incidents.


The purpose of the report was to determine and present the most current costs of injury in Canada, in economic terms as well as the human toll.


Injury-related emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalizations and deaths for 2018 were analysed using an incidence-costing, human-capital approach. ICD-10-CA codes were used to identify cases with transport incidents as an external cause of injury (V01-V89, V91, V93-V99). Data were applied to the Electronic Resource Allocation Tool (ERAT) which provides a classification and costing framework, combining existing data with variables from the literature to model full episodic costs for injuries.


In 2018, injuries cost $29.4 billion. Transport injuries cost $3.6 billion, second only to the cost of falls. Transport injuries resulted in 1,759 deaths, 5,714 disabilities, 23,872 hospitalizations, and 366,444 emergency department visits. Considering types of transport, motor vehicle collisions accounted for 53% of the cost ($1.9 billion), 53% of hospitalizations (12,544), and 37% of deaths (646). Seniors aged 65 and older had the highest rate of transport-related death and hospitalization, followed by youth and young adults aged 15-24 years. Transport incidents were the top cause of injury death in children up to age 14 and the third-leading cause of death overall for youth and young adults.


Transport injuries in Canada have an immense human and economic cost. They disproportionately affect children, youth, and seniors. These injuries use resources that could be allocated to other needs in the health system and cause needless suffering to individuals and families. Most importantly, these injuries and associated costs are preventable. Eliminating serious injuries and deaths from transport incidents will require advocacy for policy, regulations and standards that create a safer system for all road users, investment in proven preventative measures, and continued research and evaluation of interventions.


Transport incidents continue to be a leading cause of injury and death in Canada, despite progress made over the last several decades. The Cost of Injury in Canada Report quantifies the issue in economic and human terms, and is a valuable tool that can be used by road safety professionals for data-driven priority-setting and to communicate with policymakers and other decision-makers.