Objective: To estimate the number of people alive in England & Wales who have lost a close family member in a fatal road traffic crash.
Design: Linkage of mortality records in a sample of 1.1% of the population during 1971–2005 with records from the 1971, 1981, 1991 and 2001 censuses. For each person killed in a road traffic crash, the number of close family members still alive in 2005 was estimated by applying life table probabilities of survival.
Setting: England & Wales, UK.
Subjects: Adults and children killed in road traffic crashes 1971–2005.
Main outcome measure: Number of close family members alive in 2005.
Results: In a sample of approximately 1.1% of the population in 1971–2005, a total of 1801 adults and children died in road traffic crashes. These deaths left 6467 close family members bereaved in 2005, corresponding to a total of 590 518 bereaved in the population (including 131 399 parents who had lost a child and 107 384 offspring who had lost a parent).
Conclusion: Over 1% of the population of England & Wales alive in 2005 had lost a close family member in a fatal road traffic crash since 1971. This may imply a greater public health burden of road traffic crashes than previously estimated.
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See Editorial, p 361
Competing interests None.
Ethics approval The study was approved by the ONS Longitudinal Study Research Board and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Research Ethics Committee.
Contributors PE, AS and RS designed the study. CM extracted the data and commented on the manuscript. RS conducted all analyses. PE, AS and RS interpreted the data. RS, PE drafted the manuscript. AS and CM commented on the manuscript.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.