Under-reporting of road traffic injuries to the police: results from two data sources in urban India
- 1George Institute for International Health - India, Hyderabad, India
- 2George Institute for International Health and School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
- 3Administrative Staff College of India, Hyderabad, India
- Associate Professor R Dandona, Population Health Research Division, George Institute for International Health - India, 839C, Road No 44A, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad 500 033, Andhra Pradesh, India;
- Accepted 15 August 2008
Objective: To report the magnitude of under-reporting of road traffic injury (RTI) to the police from population-based and hospital-based data in the urban population of Hyderabad, India.
Methods: In a cross-sectional population-based survey, 10 459 participants aged 5–49 years (94.3% participation), selected using three-stage systematic cluster sampling, recalled the reporting of non-fatal RTIs to the police in the preceding 12 months and fatal RTIs in the preceding 3 years. In addition, 781 consecutive RTI cases presenting to the emergency department of five hospitals provided information on RTI reporting to the police.
Results: In the population-based study, of those who had non-fatal RTIs and sought outpatient or inpatient services, 2.3% (95% 1.1% to 3.5%) and 17.2% (95% CI 3.5% to 30.9%), respectively, reported the RTI to the police. Of the non-fatal consecutive RTI cases presenting to emergency departments, 24.6% (95% CI 21.3% to 27.8%) reported the RTI to the police. In the population-based study, 77.8% (95% CI 65.1% to 90.5%) of the fatal RTIs were reported to the police, and of the consecutive fatal RTI cases presenting to emergency departments, 98.1% (95% CI 95.5% to 100%) were reported to the police. The major reasons cited for not reporting RTIs to the police were “not necessary to report” and “hit and run case”.
Conclusions: As road safety policies are based on police data in India, these studies highlight serious limitations in estimating the true magnitude of RTIs from these data, indicating the need for better methods for such estimation.
Funding: Wellcome Trust, UK (077002/Z/05/Z). RD is supported in part by the National Health and Medical Research Council Capacity Building Grant in Injury Prevention and Trauma Care, Australia.
Competing interests: None.