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Public road transport crashes in a low income country
  1. S D Dharmaratne1,
  2. M Stevenson2
  1. 1Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
  2. 2The George Institute for International Health, The University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr S D Dharmaratne
 Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka; samathd{at}


Objective: To assess the safety of government versus non-government public road transportation.

Design: Descriptive study.

Setting: Kandy Municipality Area, Sri Lanka.

Subjects: All road traffic crashes reported to the Kandy Police from 1 October 1998 to 30 September 1999.

Main outcome: Involvement in a road traffic crash reported to the Kandy Police in which a government bus, private bus, or a three-wheeler was involved.

Results: During the study period, 132 government buses, 243 private buses, and 115 three wheelers were involved in 437 police reported road crashes. Of these crashes, eight (1.8%) were fatal and 132 (30.2%) were crashes resulting in injury requiring hospitalization. The majority of road crashes involved vehicle-vehicle interaction (63.4%) and vehicle-pedestrian interaction (17.8%), while the remainder consisted of vehicle-passenger and vehicle-road structure crashes. The research highlights an increased risk associated with travel on privately owned buses (RR = 2.0, 95% CI 1.6 to 2.5) and three wheelers (RR = 2.2, 95% CI 1.7 to 2.8) compared to travel on government buses. The disparity in crash rates between government and privately owned transportation modes can be explained, in part, by fewer safety requirements being imposed on the deregulated public transportation system.

Conclusions: Recommendations are made in order to address the differential in crash rates between public and private vehicle ownership used for public transportation in Sri Lanka.

  • public transport
  • road traffic crash
  • incidence

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