Law-enforcement could substantially reduce fatal traffic crashes

June 26, 2003

Canadian research published in this week's issue of THE LANCET highlights how the consistent implementation of traffic laws could reduce the 3000 daily deaths worldwide from road-traffic crashes. The key finding from the study shows that conviction for driving offences could reduce the risk of the same driver being involved in a fatal road crash in the following month by around 35%.

One million people worldwide die in road-traffic collisions every year; a further 25 million people are permanently disabled. Few data exist about the effect of traffic-law enforcement-a popular belief is that such enforcement can actually increase crashes as drivers are more preoccupied with the whereabouts of traffic police than with hazards on the road.

Donald Redelmeier from Sunnybrook and Women's hospital, Toronto, Canada, and colleagues prospectively studied traffic statistics over 11 years (1988-1999) in Ontario, Canada, an area with around 6.8 million drivers. 8975 licensed drivers had fatal crashes during the study period. 21 501 driving convictions were recorded for all drivers from the date of obtaining a full licence to the date of fatal crash, equivalent to about one conviction per driver every 5 years.

The risk of a fatal crash in the month after a conviction was about 35% lower than in a comparable month with no conviction for the same driver-however this reduction in risk declined after one month and was not statistically significant for a reduction in fatal crashes three or more months after a driving conviction.

The reduction in risk of fatal accidents was not influenced by the severity of the original conviction, but the awarding of penalty points for driving convictions reduced the risk of fatal crashes more than convictions without penalty points.

Donald Redelmeier comments: "Our data suggest that about one death is prevented for every 80 000 convictions, one emergency department visit for every 1300 convictions (assuming the benefits apply to crashes of all severity), and $1000 in societal costs for every 13 convictions (including property damage and lost time). The observed 35% relative risk reduction in death is greater in magnitude than the roughly 20% relative risk reduction from all mandatory vehicle improvements of the past 50 years, yet enforcement effects are transient. Policies of more frequent enforcement could yield more net savings and could also be revenue neutral if designed efficiently. A small relative risk reduction could immediately prevent a large amount of death, disability, and health-care demands."

In an accompanying Commentary (p 2168), Mark McCarthy from the University of London, UK, states how future campaigns are being planned to address the effect of road crashes on public health. He comments: 'In Europe, WHO member states signed a Declaration on Transport and Health in London in 1999, and will report on progress at the fourth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health in Budapest in June, 2004. Recognising the challenge of road deaths specifically, WHO has designated World Health Day in 2004 with the theme of "safe roads". The world report on prevention of road-traffic injury, to be published at the same time, will call for increased and sustained action in policy, programmes, funding, and research. As road deaths rise up the global burden of disease, interventions for prevention are also rising up the international health-policy agenda.'
Contact: Dr. Donald Redelmeier, Sunnybrook & Women's Hospital, G-151, 2075 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M4N 3M5, Canada; T)+ 1-416-480- 6999; F)+ 1-416-480-6048; E)


Related Health Articles from Brightsurf:

The mental health impact of pandemics for front line health care staff
New research shows the impact that pandemics have on the mental health of front-line health care staff.

Modifiable health risks linked to more than $730 billion in US health care costs
Modifiable health risks, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking, were linked to over $730 billion in health care spending in the US in 2016, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health.

New measure of social determinants of health may improve cardiovascular health assessment
The authors of this study developed a single risk score derived from multiple social determinants of health that predicts county-level cardiovascular disease mortality.

BU study: High deductible health plans are widening racial health gaps
The growing Black Lives Matter movement has brought more attention to the myriad structures that reinforce racial inequities, in everything from policing to hiring to maternal mortality.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

E-health resource improves men's health behaviours with or without fitness facilities
Men who regularly used a free web resource made significantly more health changes than men who did not, finds a new study from the University of British Columbia and Intensions Consulting.

Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.

Mental health of health care workers in china in hospitals with patients with COVID-19
This survey study of almost 1,300 health care workers in China at 34 hospitals equipped with fever clinics or wards for patients with COVID-19 reports on their mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress.

Health records pin broad set of health risks on genetic premutation
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Marshfield Clinic have found that there may be a much broader health risk to carriers of the FMR1 premutation, with potentially dozens of clinical conditions that can be ascribed directly to carrying it.

Attitudes about health affect how older adults engage with negative health news
To get older adults to pay attention to important health information, preface it with the good news about their health.

Read More: Health News and Health Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to