The impact of road traffic injury

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that over 1.3 million people die each year on the world’s roads, and between 20 and 50 million people are left injured or disabled.

Unless immediate action is taken, road traffic accidents will increase from the ninth to the fifth leading cause of death by 2030, and will then be responsible for around 2.4 million deaths per year.

The burden of traffic accidents, in terms of both mortality and morbidity, is rapidly increasing in developing countries due to rapid motorisation associated with economic growth.

The situation is particularly acute in India, a nation of more than one billion people, with India becoming one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

This economic growth has also meant a rapidly increasing number of vehicles sold every year (around six million) and one of the highest reported mortality rates from road traffic injuries in the world.

For over a decade now, road traffic fatalities in India have been increasing by about 8% per year to reach 105,725 in 2006. Injury is an even more common outcome of road crashes than death.

For every death attributable to trauma, three patients survive but are left permanently disabled. From mild to severe injuries, a road traffic crash can have a significant social and economic impact on the individual, family and the society. The impact of these injuries remains poorly measured in India.

Despite the high burden of road traffic injury in India, prevention does not yet have high priority, in part due to the lack of data on the true burden of injuries on functioning, quality of life, health services and the economy.

We aim to report this important gap with a study collecting detailed information on these factors in a North Indian City of Chandigarh. The Impact of Road Traffic Injuries Study is a mixed methods study at three hospital sites in North Indian city of Chandigarh.


The study aims to estimate the impact of road traffic injury in patients presenting at a tertiary care and two secondary care health facilities in north India. Specific objectives are:

  • To measure the impact of road traffic injuries on function and health-related quality-of-life (HRQoL) in urban settings in India.
  • To measure the social impact of road traffic injuries on victims and their families including their participation and utilisation of health and social services.
  • To measure the economic cost of traffic crashes using the human capital approach, including direct and indirect costs to individuals and their families.

Inclusion criteria

  • All ages.
  • Diagnosis of injuries due to road traffic accident.
  • Admission to participating hospital for at least one night as a result of a road traffic accident.
  • Able (or by proxy) to provide informed consent.

Exclusion criteria

  • Those unwilling/unable to adhere to follow-up.

Study Design

Mixed methods study. Data is collected from two secondary and one tertiary level hospital in Chandigarh, India. People admitted with road traffic injuries are prospectively recruited and followed up at one, two, four and 12 months using standardised tools through a telephone interview administered by trained research staff. In-depth interviews are conducted for 10% of the total sample.

Study Sample Size

Nearly 2200 participants have been recruited and 12 month follow up interviews are in progress.


The study results will provide the first comprehensive estimates of the burden of serious road traffic injury in India, including economic and social costs and the impact on individuals and their families.

Our Collaborators

  • Associate Professor Shankar Prinja
  • Professor Belinda Gabbe


The study is funded by the Road Traffic Injury Research Network.