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Official government statistics of road traffic deaths in India under-represent pedestrians and motorised two wheeler riders
  1. Kavi Bhalla1,
  2. Nidhi Khurana1,
  3. Dipan Bose2,
  4. Kumari Vinodhani Navaratne3,
  5. Geetam Tiwari4,
  6. Dinesh Mohan4
  1. 1Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  2. 2Global Road Safety Facility, World Bank, Washington DC, USA
  3. 3Health Nutrition and Population Global Practice, South Asia Region, World Bank, Colombo, Sri Lanka
  4. 4Transportation Research and Injury Prevention Programme, Indian Institute of Technology—Delhi, New Delhi, India
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kavi Bhalla, Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 N Wolfe Street E8138, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA; kavibhalla{at}


Background Reliable data on traffic deaths are important for planning road safety programmes and evaluating progress. Although pedestrians comprise approximately 40% of traffic deaths in low-income and middle-income countries, official government statistics in India suggest that pedestrians comprise less than 10% of deaths.

Objective To assess the accuracy of official tabulations of traffic deaths among various road users in India.

Method We reviewed police first information reports (FIRs) of traffic deaths in one district (Belgaum) in 2013 and 2014 and extracted information about crash victims. We validated the FIRs by linking with case files from four police stations in the district. Finally, we compared the information on types of road users killed based on FIRs with the district's official tabulations.

Results We found that the distribution of deaths by types of road users reported in official tabulations differed substantially from the underlying police reports. While official tabulations reported that only 9% of deaths in 2013 were pedestrians and 37% were riders of motorised two wheelers, FIRs showed that these groups accounted for 21% and 49% of deaths, respectively.

Discussion Official tabulations of traffic deaths in India do not correctly represent the types of roads users killed. Until the Indian National Crime Records Bureau has corrected the process of generating statistical tabulations from police reports, data on the types of road users killed in India should not be used for research and policy. In the interim, researchers and policy makers who need such information should extract it from police case files.

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  • Funding This study was supported by funding provided to Johns Hopkins University (JHU) from a trust fund supported by the Bloomberg Philanthropies at the World Bank.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Johns Hopkins School of Public Health Institutional Review Board.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.