The unequal distribution of road trauma in China : understanding risk factors to improve public health

Fleiter, Judy J., Watson, Barry C., Lennon, Alexia J., & King, Mark J. (2014) The unequal distribution of road trauma in China : understanding risk factors to improve public health. In Australia China Centre for Public Health Research Forum 2014, 1 - 3 August 2014, QUT Gardens Point, Brisbane, QLD. (Unpublished)


The World Health Organization identifies road trauma as a major public health issue in every country; most notably among low-to-middle income countries. More than 90% of all road fatalities occur in these countries, although they have only 48% of all registered vehicles [1]. Unprecedented focus has been placed on reducing the global road trauma burden through the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011-2020).

China is rapidly transitioning from a nation of bicycle riders and pedestrians to one where car ownership and use is increasing. This transition presents important public health, mobility, and safety challenges. Rapid motorisation has resulted in an increased road trauma burden, shouldered disproportionately among the population. Vulnerable road users (bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists) are of particular concern, representing 70% of all road-related fatalities [1]. Furthermore, those at greatest risk of sustaining a crash-related disability are: male, older, less educated, and earning a lower income [2] and residing in urban areas [3], with higher fatality rates in north-western poorer provinces [3].

Speeding is a key factor in road crashes in China [1, 4] and is one of two risk factors targeted in the Bloomberg Philanthropies-funded Global Road Safety Program operating in two Chinese cities over five year [5] to which the first author has provided expert advice. However, little evidence exists to help understand the factors underpinning speeding behaviour. Previous research conducted by the authors in Beijing and Hangzhou explored personal, social, and legal factors relating to speeding to assist in better understanding the motivations for non-compliance with speed limits. Qualitative and quantitative research findings indicated that speeding is relatively common, including self-reported travel speeds of greater than 30 km/hour above posted speed limits [6], and that the road safety laws and enforcement practices may, in some circumstances, contribute to this [7]. Normative factors were also evident; the role of friends, family members and driving instructors were influential. Additionally, using social networks to attempt to avoid detection and penalty was reported, thereby potentially reinforcing community perceptions that speeding is acceptable [8, 9].

The authors established strong collaborative links with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Zhejiang Police College to conduct this research. The first author has worked in both institutions for extended time periods and recognises that research must include an understanding of culturally-relevant issues if road safety is to improve in China. Future collaborations to assist in enhancing our understanding of such issues are welcomed.


[1] World Health Organization. (2009). Global status report on road safety: Time for action; Geneva. [2] Chen, H., Du, W., & Li, N. (2013). The socioeconomic inequality in traffic-related disability among Chinese adults: the application of concentration index. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 55(101-106). [3] Wang, S. Y., Li, Y. H., Chi, G. B., Xiao, S. Y., Ozanne-Smith, J., Stevenson, M., & Phillips, M. (2008). Injury-related fatalities in China: an under-recognised public-health problem. The Lancet (British edition), 372(9651), 1765-1773. [4] He, J., King, M. J., Watson, B., Rakotonirainy, A., & Fleiter, J. J. (2013). Speed enforcement in China: National, provincial and city initiatives and their success. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 50, 282-288. [5] Bhalla, K., Li, Q., Duan, L., Wang, Y., Bishai, D., & Hyder, A. A. (2013). The prevalence of speeding and drink driving in two cities in China: a mid project evaluation of ongoing road safety interventions. Injury, 44, 49-56. doi:10.1016/S0020-1383(13)70213-4. [6] Fleiter, J. J., Watson, B., & Lennon, A. (2013). Awareness of risky behaviour among Chinese drivers. Peer-reviewed paper presented at 23rd Canadian Multidisciplinary Road Safety Conference, Montréal, Québec. [7] Fleiter, J. J., Watson, B., Lennon, A., King, M. J., & Shi, K. (2009). Speeding in Australia and China: A comparison of the influence of legal sanctions and enforcement practices on car drivers. Peer-reviewd paper presented at Australasian Road Safety Research Policing Education Conference, Sydney. [8] Fleiter, J. J., Watson, B., Lennon, A., King, M. J., & Shi, K. (2011). Social influences on drivers in China. Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety, 22(2), 29-36. [9] Fleiter, J. J., Watson, B., Guan, M. Q., Ding, J. Y., & Xu, C. (2013). Characteristics of Chinese Drivers Attending a Mandatory Training Course Following Licence Suspension. Peer-reviewed paper presented at Road Safety on Four Continents, Beijing, China.

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ID Code: 79667
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Refereed: No
Keywords: Road trauma, Speeding, China, Distribution of trauma
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Epidemiology (111706)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified (111799)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > HUMAN GEOGRAPHY (160400) > Human Geography not elsewhere classified (160499)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Qld (CARRS-Q)
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Deposited On: 05 Jan 2015 03:47
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2015 03:47

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