Road Traffic Injury Epidemic in Jamaica Implications for

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Asian Social Science October 2008, established that these accidents constitute a major source of preventable mortality Police accident statistics indicate. that the consistently high level of road traffic injuries and fatalities are directly attributable to poor judgment on the part. of road users National Road Safety Council of Jamaica 2004 In 1999 motor vehicle accidents represented the. twelfth leading cause of deaths island wide National Road Safety Council of Jamaica 2004. In Jamaica with its rapid expansion of road construction creation of new highways and increase in the number of. vehicles road traffic accidents are becoming an increasing serious public health problem The magnitude of the. problems would be greatly reduced if appropriate measures were taken concerning road user behaviour The present. study was undertaken to examine road traffic accidents and fatalities by categories of gender age road users. motor vehicles time of day location and outcome of motor vehicle accidents The socio economic implications are. also noted and recommendations are made for risk reduction and safety as elements towards strategic and policy. development,2 Materials and Methods, The present study reports on road traffic accidents and fatalities in Jamaica with implications for governance and public. policy The study is informed by quantitative and qualitative designs that permit primary and secondary analyses. For the purpose of the study a road traffic accident was defined as an accident that took place on the road between two. or more moving objects one of which must be any kind of moving vehicle An injury on the road without. involvement of a vehicle eg a person slipping and falling on the road and sustaining injury or injury involving a. stationary vehicle eg a person getting injured while washing or loading a vehicle were excluded from the study The. motor vehicle accidents statistics used in this study was taken from the Jamaica Constabulary Force JCF field. research of 122 cases from emergency patients at four 4 hospitals as well as information from seven 7 general. insurance companies in Jamaica These insurance companies wish to remain anonymous hence labeled from A to G. for the purpose of this study The study is based on the collection of data about all motor vehicle accidents that. occurred in Jamaica during the period January 1 2000 to December 31 2006 The annual statistical report contains. information such as the number and nature of accidents causes of road accidents number of fatalities and casualties. accident date time location age and gender of the victims The Statistical Package for Social Scientists SPSS is. used for data analysis The analytical procedure is descriptive statistics involving cross tabulation frequency and. percentages, The data obtained from the Jamaica Constabulary Force JCF represent cases by categories of road traffic accident. fatalities by gender age road users motor vehicles time of day location and outcome of accidents Other data. include insurance claims honoured for motor vehicle accidents for six 6 years 2001 2006 by seven 7 general. insurance companies in Jamaica, Males are far more likely to be killed in road traffic accidents than females Table 1 In the two years 2005 and 2006. of the total 592 victims 466 78 7 were males and 126 21 3 were females In the period 2001 to 2005 the. highest number of victims 20 7 was between 20 29 years of age Approximately 62 2 of the victims were. under 40 years of age There were 91 children 4 9 below 10 years of age The highest road fatalities in any of the. years occurred in 2002 408 and represent an increase of 2 5 from the previous year Table 2 The following years. 2003 2005 show a steady decline of approximately 1 6. During the period 2001 2006 pedestrians were prone to road traffic fatalities than any other users Table 3 This. represents 667 30 2 pedestrians followed by private motor car drivers 374 16 9 and private motor car passengers. 368 16 6 Two hundred and fifty nine 11 7 pedal cyclists were killed followed by 206 9 3 motor cyclist. The least likely to be involved are commercial motor car passengers and drivers 3 0 and 1 9 respectively and. pillion passengers 1 9 In addition based on the feedback from the 122 respondents of this study 46 percent. blamed accidents on having to swerve from potholes and uneven road surface in order to prevent damage to their. motor vehicles, The period 2001 2006 highlights road traffic accidents as per time of day and shows that 53 2 of road traffic.
accidents occurred during the day between 0600h and 1800h There was a greater incidence of road traffic accidents. 52 6 during weekends between 0600h on Friday and Monday 0600h compared to mid week days Table 4. This was consistent throughout all the 14 parishes of Jamaica The road traffic accidents were mainly concentrated in. the parishes of St Andrew 30 063 and St Catherine 7 720 over the period 2000 2005 Table 5 It is ascertained. that this is as a result of frequent travels out of town for weekend vacation The least prevalent experience is in the. parishes of Hanover 734 St Thomas 1 312 and Trelawny 1 341 Table 6 shows a steady increase of. approximately 15 25 percent each year as total claim honoured for motor vehicle accidents over the period 2001 2006. This also includes theft of motor vehicles that are comprehensively insured While there is no significant difference in. the sum honoured by insurance companies A to G for the period 2001 and 2002 there is a marginal increase during. Vol 4 No 10 Asian Social Science, 2003 2005 and an escalated sum of US 27 614 023 34 in 2006 Companies F and G consistently reflect a higher dollar. amount for motor vehicle mishaps,4 Discussion, This study shows that the various variables fatality gender age road users location and time of accidents bear. relationship with road traffic accidents in Jamaica The finding that adolescents and young adults are at high risk of. traffic injury and death is well documented in many reviews on the subject In the present study the highest number of. road traffic accident victims 20 7 was found in the age group 20 29 years This study also found that 40 7 of. the victims were between 20 and 39 years of age An earlier study by Ganveer and Tiwari 2005 in India reported. that 75 of the road traffic accident victims were in the age group 18 37 years Other studies have reported that. those in the age group 15 39 years comprised between 46 75 mean 58 of all road traffic accident casualties. Sayer Hitchcock 1984 Jayasuriya 1991 The higher incidence of accidents in these age groups can be attributed. to the risk taking behaviours of youths The findings demonstrate that the people of the most active and productive. age group are involved in road traffic accidents This has important economic impacts as these are people in their. most economically productive years In addition there is significant expenditure incurred in the treatment of these. victims It also has implications for the design and implementation of more targeted interventions The present study. also shows that below and above the age group 20 and 49 years the proportion of road traffic accidents was low The. reason may be that children were taken care of by elders and there is less use of vehicles in the adolescent age group. Lower proportion of road traffic accidents in those aged 60 and above could be due to the generally less mobility of. these persons, The road traffic accident fatalities were 3 7 times higher in males than in females according to the study In a previous. report there were 12 230 road traffic accidents for 2003 representing a slight decrease of 2 compared with 2002. For the period 1991 2003 80 9 of road traffic accident fatalities were males while 19 1 were females giving a. ratio of four to one For the same period 95 of the drivers that died as a result of road traffic accidents were males. and 5 females The overwhelming majority of the males were in the productive years and the age cohort 20 29 years. was the most affected National Road Safety Council of Jamaica 2004 A study by Escoffrey and Shirley 2002. showed that of the trauma related deaths at the University Hospital of the West Indies in Jamaica between 1983 and. 1997 motor vehicle accidents accounted for 44 9 The 21 30 age group was the most commonly affected and the. overall male female ratio was 4 1 Other studies have described casualties by sex showing consistent predominance. of males over female with males comprising between 67 and 99 5 mean 80 In a review of traffic accidents in. developing countries by Odero et al 1997 the male to female ratio was 2 in all studies examined but 3 in 83 of. the studies This can be explained by the greater exposure of men to traffic or increased risk due to other factors. Pedestrians constituted 30 2 of the road users involved in road traffic accidents followed by followed by private motor. car drivers 16 9 and private motor car passengers 16 6 Odero et al 1997 reported that pedestrian fatalities. were highest in 75 of the studies accounting for between 41 and 75 followed by passengers 38 51 in 62 of. the studies Drivers were third in 55 of the studies and never ranked first in any country A report by Peden et al. 2004 showed that pedestrians are nine times more likely to be affected by road traffic accidents while bicyclists are. eight times more likely Compared with a person in a car a motorized two wheeler is 20 times more likely to be killed. for each kilometer traveled In addition persons in a car are 10 times more likely to be killed than a passenger in a bus. or coach and 20 times more likely than a passenger in a train Peden et al 2004 While most motor vehicle drivers. are men a high proportion of males involved as pedestrians passengers or cyclists suggests the co existence of other. social and behavioural factors contributing to their vulnerability Pedestrians are most vulnerable to injury and death. This may be due to a number of factors including lack of pedestrian facilities in road design poor knowledge and. practice of road safety measures by the general population discourteous behaviour of motorists high speed driving and. low levels of vehicle ownership The high proportions of passenger fatalities appear to be associated with extensive. use of public transport types and condition of such vehicles and driving skill of their operator While this study did. not attempt to investigate specific potential factors that would explain the observed gender differences the authors. believe that such a study should be done in order to access and correct for levels of exposure by gender. In this study there was a greater incidence of reported road traffic accidents during the day between 0600h and 1800h. and on weekends It is ascertained that the greater incidence of road traffic accidents on weekends could be due to. frequent travels out of town for weekend vacation Other studies have substantiate these findings and in a review of. traffic injuries in developing countries by Odero et al 1997 there was a greater incidence of traffic injury during. weekends between 0600h on Friday and Monday 0600h compared to mid week days in 79 of the 19 studies that. provided data Of the total weekly figure an average of 52 occurred during weekends range 36 74 Odero et. al 1997 also reported that between 60 and 80 of casualties were injured during the day and approximately one third. of traffic injuries occurred during the night with highest incidence between 1800h and 2400h There is sufficient. evidence in support of a high incidence of day time casualties This can be explained by greater traffic volume during. Asian Social Science October 2008, the day resulting in greater risk of accident involvement as people travel to work children go to school and commercial. enterprises are open for business The relative decline in traffic casualties at night may be explained by less night time. activity and travel, The use of alcohol was not involved in our analyses as the data was unavailable However the role of alcohol in.
impairing driving ability is well documented As the blood alcohol content increases risk of crash involvement. increases dramatically due to increase impairment There are two studies conducted in Jamaica which examined. morbidity health and social problems from alcohol abuse One of the studies identified that in blood samples of 31. motor vehicle fatalities evidence of alcohol intake was found in 77 5 of the fatalities and 35 had alcohol levels. above the legal acceptable limits Francis et al 1991 The other done by three doctors revealed that alcohol was. found in the bodies of 43 of drivers involved in traffic accidents Jamaica Gleaner 2000 According to Peden et al. 2004 in low and middle income countries increased blood alcohol level was present in 33 69 of fatally injured. drivers and in 8 29 of drivers involved in crashes but not fatally injured A study in Bangalore showed that 44 of. drivers of two wheelers which crashed were under the influence of alcohol Jagnoor 2006 Alcohol use is involved in. up to 70 of road crashes in the United States Bliff et al 2004 but as low as 2 in China Wang and Jiang 2003. These are indicative of local and regional differences in road accidents epidemiology The introduction of blood. alcohol content limits is associated with a decrease in alcohol related crashes and subsequent lowering of such limits. leads to further reductions though the magnitude of such effects varies widely The most effective way to deter . Road Traffic Injury Epidemic in Jamaica Implications for Governance and Public Policy Tazhmoye Crawford Corresponding author Department of Basic Medical Sciences University of the West Indies Kingston 7 Jamaica Tel 1 876 363 3628 E mail crawfordtazhmoye yahoo co uk Donovan McGrowder Department of Pathology University of the West Indies Kingston 7 Jamaica Tel 1 876 927 1410 E mail

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