Research Papers

Traffic-related fatality rates: Comparisons between countries show opportunity for dramatic reductions in deaths in Canada

Version 1
Date added June 17, 2014
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Category 2014 CMRSC XXIV Vancouver
Tags Policy and Practice, Session 2A
Author/Auteur Teschke K
Stream/Volet Policy and Practice

Slidedeck Presentation Only (no paper submitted)

2A Teschke_Traffic-Related Fatality Rates Comparisons Between Countries Show Opportunity



Traffic-related trauma is an important contributor to mortality in Canada, with about 2200 deaths per year. Comparisons of Canadian fatality rates using population denominators suggests that there are Northern European countrieswith much lower rates, whereas rates in the United States are higher. It is important to understand whether these differences simply reflect differences in travel behaviour. Travel diary data allow calculation of exposure-based fatality rates and provide more appropriate comparisons. There are no national data of this kind, but British Columbia (BC) data are available.


Injury data from the BC Motor Vehicle Branch, trip diary data from the Metro Vancouver transportation authority, and provincial travel and population data from the Census were used to calculate crude fatality rates for three modes of travel (motor vehicle occupants, bicyclists, and pedestrians) using trip and distance denominators. The results were compared to published fatality rates per trip in the United States and per km travelled in Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.


British Columbia fatality rates per 100 million person-trips were 9.6 for motor vehicle occupants, 13.8 for bicyclists and 14.7 for pedestrians, nearly identical to the rates in the United States. Fatality rates per 100 million kilometers travelled were 0.97 for motor vehicle occupants, 2.6 for bicyclists and 7.4 for pedestrians, much higher than the rates in Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. If their lower traffic mortality rates could be achieved in Canada, about 1000 lives per year could be saved.


These results suggest that examination of transportation infrastructure and policies in the safer European jurisdictions would be valuable. Policies related to safety targets, urban speed limits, driving under the influence, turning, and separation of vulnerable road users will be discussed.

Teschke K