Article Text

Road traffic injury mortality and its mechanisms in India: nationally representative mortality survey of 1.1 million homes
  1. Marvin Hsiao1,2,
  2. Ajai Malhotra3,
  3. J S Thakur4,
  4. Jay K Sheth5,
  5. Avery B Nathens2,6,
  6. Neeraj Dhingra7,
  7. Prabhat Jha1,
  8. for the Million Death Study Collaborators
  1. 1Centre for Global Health Research, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St Michael's Hospital, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
  2. 2Division of General Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
  3. 3Department of Surgery, VCU Medical Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA
  4. 4Department of Community Medicine, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India
  5. 5Smt NHL Municipal Medical College, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India
  6. 6Sunnybrook Research Institute, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Canada
  7. 7National AIDS Control Organization, New Delhi, India
  1. Correspondence to Dr Marvin Hsiao;{at}


Objectives To quantify and describe the mechanism of road traffic injury (RTI) deaths in India.

Design We conducted a nationally representative mortality survey where at least two physicians coded each non-medical field staff's verbal autopsy reports. RTI mechanism data were extracted from the narrative section of these reports.

Setting 1.1 million homes in India.

Participants Over 122 000 deaths at all ages from 2001 to 2003.

Primary and secondary outcome measures Age-specific and sex-specific mortality rates, place and timing of death, modes of transportation and injuries sustained.

Results The 2299 RTI deaths in the survey correspond to an estimated 183 600 RTI deaths or about 2% of all deaths in 2005 nationally, of which 65% occurred in men between the ages 15 and 59 years. The age-adjusted mortality rate was greater in men than in women, in urban than in rural areas, and was notably higher than that estimated from the national police records. Pedestrians (68 000), motorcyclists (36 000) and other vulnerable road users (20 000) constituted 68% of RTI deaths (124 000) nationally. Among the study sample, the majority of all RTI deaths occurred at the scene of collision (1005/1733, 58%), within minutes of collision (883/1596, 55%), and/or involved a head injury (691/1124, 62%). Compared to non-pedestrian RTI deaths, about 55 000 (81%) of pedestrian deaths were associated with less education and living in poorer neighbourhoods.

Conclusions In India, RTIs cause a substantial number of deaths, particularly among pedestrians and other vulnerable road users. Interventions to prevent collisions and reduce injuries might address over half of the RTI deaths. Improved prehospital transport and hospital trauma care might address just over a third of the RTI deaths.

  • road traffic injury
  • verbal autopsy
  • India
  • low- and middle-income countries

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