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Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit


Keyword: vulnerable road users

Focus on Road Traffic Injuries in Brazil: Selections from the Traffic Injury Prevention Special Issue

Vulnerable road users (VRUs) are defined as slow-moving, exposed and/or unprotected road users and are often at a higher risk of injury when involved in a crash. VRUs traditionally include pedestrians, motorcycles and non-motorized cyclists. While Brazil’s road traffic mortality rate has been shown to be significantly higher than surrounding countries Chile and Argentina, little information has been published regarding VRU fatalities in the country.

In the published paper, “Road Traffic Deaths in Brazil: Rising Trends in Pedestrian and Motorcycle Occupant Deaths,” a team of researchers, including JH-IIRU team members Aruna Chandran and David Bishai and colleagues from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul and the Vida No Transito Evaluation Team, examined the pattern of road traffic deaths disaggregated by VRU categories with the use of the Brazilian Ministry of Health’s mortality database.

The researchers found that VRUs are increasingly contributing to the proportion of road traffic fatalities in Brazil, with elderly pedestrians at a particularly high risk and motorcycle fatalities on a rapid increase. Understanding the epidemiology of road traffic deaths in all road user categories is essential to allow for more specific targeting of intervention programs, thus potentially saving lives.

As part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Program, in 2012, JH-IIRU published “Public Health Burden of Road Traffic Injuries: An Assessment from Ten Low- and Middle-Income Countries,” a special issue of Traffic Injury Prevention. This landmark publication includes 11 scientific papers jointly authored with 50 colleagues from JH-IIRU and their in-country collaborators that contribute much-needed new knowledge to the burgeoning issue of road traffic injuries in low- and middle- income countries.

You can access the full article along with the entire special issue here:

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JH-IIRU Team Members Publish Paper on Bicyclist Mortality in China

Recent studies have shown considerable undercounting of bicyclist mortality rates in police-reported data in China. Comparisons between the Ministry of Health’s vital registration data and the Disease Surveillance Points data (DSP) show significant disparity in rates from that of the official, police-reported rates.

JH-IIRU team members, including associate faculty Sai Ma and research assistant Qingfeng Li, recently published a study addressing this disparity in Injury Prevention. “Bicyclist mortality between 2006 and 2010 in China: Findings from national Disease Surveillance Points (DSP) data,” examines the trend in bicycle mortality using DSP data.

The study found that, between 2006 and 2010, the mortality rate for bicyclists increased from 1.1 to 1.6 per 100,000 population, according to DSP data, and more than 90% of bicyclist deaths were undercounted by police compared to DSP data during the same time period. However, because the police-reported statistics are regarded as the official data source, bicyclist injury and mortality rates may suffer from under-reporting.

This paper suggests the importance of using health sector data to compliment the reporting of traffic bicyclist injuries, as well as the need to improve police reports in China to more accurately reflect mortality rates.

These findings have several important policy implications: including health sector data can improve the quality of the data, as well as influence the implementation of interventions, such as promoting helmet use, mass media campaigns and legislation to curb the recent increase in mortality.

You can access the paper here: