Secondary road traffic casualties in England and Wales

Phil Edwards, Andy Sloggett and Ruth Sullivan, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

[Project number 30085]

Aim of study: To estimate the number of parents and siblings bereaved by the death of a child, and to estimate the number of children orphaned (at least one parent dead) as a result of a road traffic accident.

The numbers of parents who have been bereaved by the death of a child, and the numbers of children who have been orphaned as a result of road traffic accidents in England & Wales are not known. Reliable data on the numbers of 'secondary casualties' of road traffic accidents are needed in order tIn Great Britain the numbers of children and adults killed in road traffic accidents has declined steadily over the last 30 years: numbers have fallen from 636 children and 5,712 adults killed in 1979, to 169 children and 2,994 adults killed in 2006.1 Despite these reductions, road traffic collisions remain the leading cause of death in children aged over one year.

Figures on the numbers of people killed do not reflect the true scale of road traffic death and injury - for every child or adult killed in a road traffic accident, there will be many family members who will be devastated by grief for the rest of their lives. Bereavement is considered by many to be among the most stressful of life events, and particularly traumatic for children. When a child dies, or is bereaved of a parent or sibling, it changes a family forever.

The numbers of parents who have been bereaved by the death of a child, and the numbers of children who have been orphaned as a result of road traffic accidents are not known. Reliable data on the numbers of 'secondary casualties' of road traffic accidents are needed in order to estimate the true burden of this leading cause of death, and to help raise awareness of its importance as a public health issue.

The Longitudinal Study provides a unique opportunity to estimate the numbers of people in England & Wales who have been bereaved by the traumatic effects of road traffic accidents.

1. Road Casualties Great Britain: Supplementary tables. Table c: Casualties resulting from reported personal injury road accidents, by age and severity: GB 1979 - 2006. Department for Transport, London, 6 December 2007.

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