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Report numberRA-2006-83
TitleCase studies: underreporting of seriously injured road traffic victims
SubtitleOfficial accident statistics versus hospital data
AuthorsPascal Lammar
Published byPolicy Research Centre for Traffic Safety 2002-2006
Number of pages44
Date30/03/2006
ISBN
Document languageDutch
Partner(s)VUB
Work packageOther: Knowledge traffic unsafety
Summary

The international literature reports a considerable underreporting of the number of road traffic victims in the official accident statistics. To study the Flemish situation for the seriously injured road traffic victims, two case studies were done, one in the region of Geel and one in the region of Turnhout. Hospital data were used in these case studies, more specifically the Minimal Clinical Data of the AZ Sint-Dimpna (Geel) and the AZ Sint-Jozef (Turnhout). These data enable the selection of road traffic victims by use of the so-called E-codes. The following E-codes were used: E810-819 (except E817) and E826-829 (except E828). By comparing these data with the number of road traffic victims, as registered in the official accident statistics, the reporting rate in the study regions could be determined, after applying a distribution code, indicating the origin of the patients in the hospitals.
The reporting rate is calculated according to a number of scenarios. In the first scenario the category E826-829 was entirely considered as being composed of traffic victims, in the second scenario 95% of the victims within category E826-829 was considered as being traffic victims, in the third scenario 68% of the victims within category E826-829 was considered as being traffic victims.
 

In the region of Geel a reporting rate between 53% and 60% was calculated, dependent on the scenario, for the 2000-2002 period. In the region of Turnhout a reporting rate between 43% and 50% was calculated for the same period, dependent on the scenario. The higher reporting rate in the region of Geel, in comparison with the region of Turnhout, can probably be explained, to a large extent, by the higher reporting rate during the year 2000, confounding the outcome of the other years, on the one hand, and by the smaller share of bicycle accident victims (E826) in the region of Geel, on the other hand. When only taking into account the years 2001 and 2002 for the region of Geel a reporting rate between 47% and 53% is calculated, dependent on the scenario. These figures are very similar to those of the region of Turnhout. The bicycle accident victims (E826), less frequently being registered in the official accident statistics, make up 32% of the total number of road traffic victims in the AZ Sint-Dimpna (Geel) and 43% in the AZ Sint-Jozef (Turnhout).
 

When comparing the two case studies, we can conclude that the case study in the region of Turnhout is the most reliable, because of more homogeneous results throughout the years and because it could be confirmed that most of the patients (93%) are really living in the proximity of the hospital. Moreover, less non-specific E-codes were attributed. It must be stressed that in this case study a lower reporting rate is calculated (between 43% and 50%) than in the other case study.
 

Based on the calculations in the regions of Geel and Turnhout (2000-2002 period), it can be concluded that only between 43% and 60% of the number of seriously injured traffic victims is actually registered in the official accident statistics. These figures are slightly lower than those generally found in the international literature, with a reporting rate of about 60%.
 

It is necessary to treat these results with caution, due to the existence of a number of confounding factors.

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The Policy Research Centre for Traffic Safety carries out policy relevant scientific research under the authority of the Flemish Government. The Centre is the result of a

cooperation between Hasselt University, KU Leuven and VITO, the Flemish Institute for Technological Research.

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