In Sri Lanka, seven road traffic fatalities occur every day, of which 10% are children. The study aimed to determine the incidence of road traffic crashes and injuries; and the knowledge, attitudes and practices on road safety among high school students attending government schools in a suburb of Colombo, Sri Lanka.
A descriptive cross sectional study was conducted among 511 students. Students were selected using multistage cluster sampling from 17 clusters with a cluster size of thirty students. Data were collected using a self administered questionnaire.
The annual incidence of road traffic crashes among the study population was 174.1 per 1000 students (95% CI: 141.3 to 207.1). The annual incidence of road traffic injury was 105.6 per 1000 students (95% CI: 79.0 to 132.3). Majority of crashes (58.4%; n=52) occurred between 12 noon to 6 pm. Most were involved as pedestrians (29.2%; n=26), or while travelling on a motorcycle (27%; n=24), bicycle (15.7%;n=14) and three wheeler (12.4%; n=11). Sixty percent of those involved in a road traffic crash had sustained an injury. Majority (72.2%; n=39) were minor injuries (contusions and abrasions), but seven students (13%) had suffered a fracture. Most pedestrian related practices and the use of safety devices such as helmets (65.4%; n=334) and seatbelts (69.1%; n=353) were satisfactory. Forty percent (n=206) cross the street while talking on their mobile phone and one fourth (n=128) have driven a motorised vehicle without a valid driving license. Knowledge and practices as bus users was not satisfactory, with 45.6% (n=233) travelling on the footboard and 52.2% (n=267) boarding/disembarking from a bus when it is not at a bus stop.
Majority of students sustained road traffic injury as pedestrians or motorcyclists. Therefore measures to improve their safety should be taken, with special focus on educational interventions and law enforcement.