Motor vehicle pedestrian mortality in Soweto from 2001 to 2005

Mwesigwa, James Blair
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In South Africa, injury remains one of the major causes of death. International data also suggests that intentional and unintentional deaths are on the increase globally with highest increases noted in the middle and low income economies. The National Injury Mortality Surveillance System (NIMSS) which captures only 40% of all annual nonnatural deaths revealed that 27% of these deaths occurring mainly in adults and children are motor vehicle related. 58% of these are pedestrians. The rationale of this study stems from the findings for the National Injury Mortality Surveillance System (NIMSS) of 2002, which indicated a high pedestrian mortality. This study is a descriptive cross sectional analysis of pedestrian related mortality data from an existing NIMSS database. Continuous variables were summarised using means and standard deviation while categorical variable were summarised using proportions. Summary data were presented in graphs and tables. This was conducted using a statistical programme STATA10. Between 2001 and 2005, motor vehicle transport related deaths comprised 11.32% of all recorded un-natural deaths in Soweto with pedestrians accounting for 50% of deaths. The Pedestrian mortality comprised the dominant proportion of all motor vehicle related mortality from 2001to2005 (compared to drivers, passengers and unspecified road user categories). From the results of the study, it was shown that most pedestrian deaths occurred in the black population group, followed by coloureds. It also confirmed that the majority of pedestrian deaths were of the male gender group. With regards to time and day of death, it concluded that pedestrian deaths occurred in between 1800h and 2400h, mainly over weekends, whereas by age group, age group, most pedestrian fatalities were adolescents and young adults followed by children. When it came to access to emergency medical care, the study showed that the majority of dead pedestrians were never attended to by Emergency Medical personnel. Blood alcohol concentrations were raised in a high percentage of those fatalities in whom it was possible to measure such concentrations, suggesting that alcohol played a significant role in pedestrian deaths. A number of preventative and advocacy initiatives are recommended, with emphasis on broad based stake holder participation, education, engineering, as well as targeted interventions that address specific issues that were identified as major contributing factors to the observed increased vulnerability in those specific categories of pedestrians.
M.P.H., Faculty of Health, University of the Witwatersrand, 2011