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Following a general paucity of small area research on road traffic injuries (RTIs), this study examined small area variations in RTIs for the eThekwini Metropolitan Area (comprising predominantly the City of Durban) in South Africa. Population density was used as an organising framework to examine variations in RTI outcomes, and correspondence with a range of measures relating to characteristics of the crashes and to socio-economic deprivation. Analyses were undertaken at the suburb level, using data from 2005–2009 and employing a cross-sectional geographical design. Analyses were also undertaken for disaggregated injury, crash severity, and road user groups. The distribution of the injury outcome measures corresponded with several measures that proxied risks relating to excessive driving speeds, excessive travel exposure, and general social as well as area level deprivation. Negative binomial models, fitted for the injury outcome measures, showed population density to be a significant predictor of all injury outcomes but also that its effects was only partially explained by the explanatory measures considered. The findings on deprivation provide new insights to rural-urban variations in RTIs, at least in the South African setting. The findings also have implications for informing integrated developmental policies and strategies across a range of disciplines and departments, especially at the city level.
Keywords: road traffic injury, small area, Durban, population density, densification, deprivation