Neighborhood social inequalities in road traffic injuries: the influence of traffic volume and road design

Am J Public Health. 2012 Jun;102(6):1112-9. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300528. Epub 2012 Apr 19.


Objectives: We examined the extent to which differential traffic volume and road geometry can explain social inequalities in pedestrian, cyclist, and motor vehicle occupant injuries across wealthy and poor urban areas.

Methods: We performed a multilevel observational study of all road users injured over 5 years (n=19,568) at intersections (n=17,498) in a large urban area (Island of Montreal, Canada). We considered intersection-level (traffic estimates, major roads, number of legs) and area-level (population density, commuting travel modes, household income) characteristics in multilevel Poisson regressions that nested intersections in 506 census tracts.

Results: There were significantly more injured pedestrians, cyclists, and motor vehicle occupants at intersections in the poorest than in the richest areas. Controlling for traffic volume, intersection geometry, and pedestrian and cyclist volumes greatly attenuated the event rate ratios between intersections in the poorest and richest areas for injured pedestrians (-70%), cyclists (-44%), and motor vehicle occupants (-44%).

Conclusions: Roadway environment can explain a substantial portion of the excess rate of road traffic injuries in the poorest urban areas.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Automobiles / statistics & numerical data
  • Environment Design
  • Facility Design and Construction
  • Humans
  • Quebec
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Urban Population*
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*