Availability of population-level data sources for tracking the incidence of deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes in low-income and middle-income countries

Sudeshna Mitra, Kazuyuki Neki, Leah Watetu Mbugua, Hialy Gutierrez, Leen Bakdash, Mercer Winer, Ramshankar Balasubramaniyan, Jaeda Roberts, Theo Vos, Erin Hamilton, Mohsen Naghavi, James E. Harrison, R. F. Soames Job, Kavi Bhalla

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Introduction Tracking progress towards Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3·6 of reducing traffic deaths and serious injuries poses a measurement challenge in most low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) due to large discrepancies between reported official statistics and estimates from global health measurement studies. We assess the extent to which national population censuses and health surveys can fill the information gaps. Methods We reviewed questionnaires for nationally representative surveys and censuses conducted since 2000 in LMICs. We identified sources that provide estimates of household ownership of vehicles, incidence of traffic deaths and non-fatal injuries, and prevalence of disability. Results We identified 802 data sources from 132 LMICs. Sub-Saharan African countries accounted for 43% of all measurements. The number of measurements since 2000 was high, with 97% of the current global LMIC population having at least one measurement for vehicle ownership, 77% for deaths, 90% for non-fatal injuries and 50% for disability due to traffic injuries. Recent data (since 2010) on traffic injuries were available from far fewer countries (deaths: 21 countries; non-fatal injuries: 62 and disability: 12). However, there were many more countries with recent data on less-specific questions about unintentional or all injuries (deaths: 41 countries, non-fatal: 87, disability: 32). Conclusion Traffic injuries are substantially underreported in official statistics of most LMICs. National surveys and censuses provide a viable alternative information source, but despite a large increase in their use to monitor SDGs, traffic injury measurements have not increased. We show that relatively small modifications and additions to questions in forthcoming surveys can provide countries with a way to benchmark their existing surveillance systems and result in a substantial increase in data for tracking road traffic injuries globally.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere007296
Number of pages8
JournalBMJ Global Health
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • injury
  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3·6
  • road traffic crashes
  • road traffic injuries


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