The epidemiology and prehospital care of motorcycle crashes in a sub-Saharan African urban center

Traffic Inj Prev. 2020;21(7):488-493. doi: 10.1080/15389588.2020.1785623. Epub 2020 Jul 17.


Objective: Road traffic crashes (RTCs) are common among motorcyclists in Kigali, Rwanda. The Service d'Aide Medicale Urgente (SAMU), a prehospital ambulance service, responds to many of these crashes. We aimed to describe motorcycle-related RTCs managed by SAMU.

Methods: SAMU clinical data including demographic information, injury characteristics, and management details were analyzed descriptively for all motorcycle crashes occurring between December 2012 and July 2016.

Results: Every patient included in this study was injured. These patients all called the ambulance for their injuries after a motorcycle crash. There were 2,912 motorcycle-related RTCs over the study period, representing 26% of all patients managed by SAMU. The incidence of motorcycle crashes in Kigali was 258 crashes per 100,000 people over the 3.5-year study period. The average age was 30 years and 80% were males. The most common injuries were to the lower extremities (n = 958, 33%), head (n = 878, 30%), or upper extremities (n = 453, 16%). Injuries often resulted in fractures of extremities (n = 740, 25%) and external hemorrhage anywhere in the body (unspecified region; n = 660, 23%), yet few were severe based on the Kampala Trauma Score (n = 23, 2%) and Glasgow Coma Scale (n = 42, 1.5%). The most common interventions were provision of diclofenac (n = 1,526, 52.5%), peripheral intravenous (IV) access (n = 1,217, 42%), and administration of IV fluids (n = 1,048, 36%).

Conclusion: Motorcycle-related RTCs represent a large burden of disease for patients treated by SAMU in Kigali, Rwanda. Young men are most at risk of injury, which imposes a financial strain on society. Though injuries occurred frequently, critical trauma cases from motorcycle crashes were uncommon. This may be a result of several initiatives in Rwanda to improve road safety.

Keywords: Africa; Motorcycle; emergency medicine; prehospital; road users.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Africa South of the Sahara / epidemiology
  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Motorcycles*
  • Urban Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy
  • Young Adult