Background: Road traffic crashes are an important cause of death and disability in India. Reliable and accurate data are necessary to plan strategies to reduce death and disability due to road traffic crashes. We assessed the utility of the available data on deaths due to road traffic crashes for road crash surveillance for a major metropolitan city of southern India.
Methods: We analysed the Department of Police database on deaths due to road traffic crashes for 2002 in Hyderabad, southern India and collected data from a leading newspaper for the same information using a standardized format.
Results: A total of 3039 cases of road traffic crashes were recorded in the police database for 2002, including 400 cases (13.2%) in which 411 people were killed. In the same year, 316 cases of road traffic crashes resulting in 353 deaths were reported in the newspaper. The majority of those who died due to these crashes were males. Seventy per cent of those killed were between 16 and 49 years of age. Pedestrians and riders of two-wheelers were the most vulnerable. Collision with a vehicle caused 86.4% of all crashes and 60% of the victims died before reaching a hospital. The available data were not comprehensive enough to provide a thorough basis for planning intervention strategies to reduce fatalities due to road crashes.
Conclusion: Despite the gaps in reporting of fatalities in road traffic crashes in these data sources, they provide insights into the magnitude and nature of deaths resulting from such crashes in Hyderabad. The available data have limitations and there is a need for strengthening the road traffic crash surveillance system to have reliable, accurate and adequate data on road traffic crashes and the resulting fatalities and injuries. These could then form the basis for planning effective intervention strategies to improve road safety.