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Motorcycle ownership and injury in China

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Background. China has made tremendous progress in its economic development in the past two decades. Accompanying this economic development has been an evident shift in the modes of transport, from walking and cycling to the use of motorcycles and, increasingly, four-wheel vehicles. Such changes are likely to have also produced changes in the patterns and numbers of road traffic injuries, including increases in motorcycle injuries. However, such changes have not been well documented. The work described in this paper sought, therefore, to document the changes in motorcycle ownership, motorcyclist mortality and injury rates in China since 1987. Methods. National traffic ownership and injury data from 1987 to 2001 were obtained from the National Bureau for Traffic Administration. Additionally, traffic ownership and injury records from 1997 to 2001 were collected from local police offices from 20 counties in Guangxi Region. Population data were obtained from the national and county statistics bureaus. Motorcycle ownership, fatality and injury trends over time were calculated. Results. Nationally, motorcycles accounted for 23.4% of all registered motor vehicles in 1987, increasing to 63.2% in 2001. Motorcyclist fatalities and injuries increased 5.5-fold and 9.3-fold, respectively, between 1987 and 2001. In 1987, 7.5% of all traffic fatalities and 8.8% of all traffic injuries were sustained by motorcyclists, with the corresponding proportions increasing to 18.9% and 22.8%, respectively, in 2001. The changing proportions of both traffic fatalities and injuries sustained by motorcyclists were positively correlated with the change in the proportion of motorcycles among all motor vehicles. In the 20 counties in Guangxi, motorcyclist fatality and injury rates also increased between 1997 and 2001. Moreover, these rates were considerably higher than the national rates. Conclusions. Motorcyclist injury in China is a serious public health problem. Motorcyclist fatalities and injuries are likely to continue to increase unless appropriate intervention programmes are implemented.
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Keywords: Motorcycles; fatalities and injuries

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: The George Institute for International Health University of Sydney Sydney NSW Australia 2: National and Community Programmes World Health Organization Geneva Switzerland 3: Guangxi Regional Center for Disease Control and Prevention Nanning China

Publication date: 01 September 2004

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