Road traffic injuries in the People's Republic of China, 1951-2008

Traffic Inj Prev. 2011 Dec;12(6):614-20. doi: 10.1080/15389588.2011.609925.


Objective: Road traffic injuries (RTIs) have become the leading cause of injury deaths in China. This article analyzed the trends in all crashes, nonfatal injuries, and fatalities from road traffic crashes from 1951 to 2008 and compared the crash frequency, crash severity, and crash patterns by provinces, types of road, and injured road users.

Methods: Road traffic crash data were obtained from the Bureau of Traffic Management at the Ministry of Public Security and National Bureau of Statistics of China. Descriptive statistical analyses were conducted.

Results: Over the past 5 decades, road traffic injuries have increased substantially in China. From 1951 to 2008, the total number of road traffic crashes, nonfatal injuries, and fatalities increased by 43-fold, 58-fold, and 85-fold, respectively. Linear regression suggested a significant decline of 30.1 percent (95% confidence interval [CI]: 24.8-35.3) in the mortality rate per 100,000 people during the period 2002 to 2008. From 2004 to 2008, road traffic crash mortality rate per 100,000 people varied greatly in China from the lowest of 3.0 in Henan in 2008 to the highest of 21.7 in Xizang in 2004. RTIs in China disproportionally affected the following populations: males, persons 21 to 50 years of age, pedestrians, and motorcyclists/bicyclists. Adults aged more than 65 years accounted for approximately 10 percent of total road traffic deaths. Road types and RTIs severity were closely related; highways were associated with greater mortality rates.

Conclusion: Road traffic injuries have become a burgeoning public health problem in China. Programs need to be developed to prevent nonfatal injuries and fatalities caused by road traffic crashes in this emerging country.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / mortality
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cause of Death / trends
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • China / epidemiology
  • Databases, Factual
  • Environment Design / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality
  • Young Adult