Background: Mortality from road traffic injuries in sub-Saharan Africa is among the highest in the world, yet data from the region are sparse. To date, no multi-site population-based survey on road traffic injuries has been reported from Nigeria, the most populated country in Africa.
Objective: To explore the epidemiology of road traffic injury in Nigeria and provide data on the populations affected and risk factors for road traffic injury.
Design: Data from a population-based survey using two-stage stratified cluster sampling. SUBJECTS/ SETTING: Road traffic injury status and demographic information were collected on 3082 respondents living in 553 households in seven of Nigeria's 37 states.
Main outcome measures: Incidence rates were estimated with confidence intervals based on a Poisson distribution; Poisson regression analysis was used to calculate relative risks for associated factors.
Results: The overall road traffic injury rate was 41 per 1000 population (95% CI 34 to 49), and mortality from road traffic injuries was 1.6 per 1000 population (95% CI 0.5 to 3.8). Motorcycle crashes accounted for 54% of all road traffic injuries. The road traffic injury rates found for rural and urban respondents were not significantly different. Increased risk of injury was associated with male gender among those aged 18-44 years, with a relative risk of 2.96 when compared with women in the same age range (95% CI 1.72 to 5.09, p<0.001).
Conclusions: The road traffic injury rates found in this survey highlight a neglected public health problem in Nigeria. Simple extrapolations from this survey suggest that over 4 million people may be injured and as many as 200 000 potentially killed as the result of road traffic crashes annually in Nigeria. Appropriate interventions in both the health and transport sectors are needed to address this significant cause of morbidity and mortality in Nigeria.