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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