Main Article Content

Road traffic collisions in Malawi: Trends and patterns of mortality on scene

Francisco Schlottmann
Anna F. Tyson
Bruce A. Cairns
Carlos Varela
Anthony G. Charles


Background: Worldwide, 90% of injury deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Road traffic collisions (RTCs) are increasingly common and result in more death and disability in the developing world than in the developed world. We aimed to examine the prehospital case fatality rate from RTCs in Malawi.

Material and Methods: A retrospective study was performed utilizing the Malawian National Road Safety Council (NRSC) registry from 2008-2012. The NRSC data were collected at the scene by police officers. Victim, vehicle, and environmental factors were used to describe the characteristics of fatal collisions. Case fatality rate was defined as the number of fatalities divided by the number of people involved in RTCs each year. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine predictors of crash scene fatality.

Results: A total of 11,467 RTCs were reported by the NRSC between 2008 and 2012. Of these, 34% involved at least one fatality at the scene. The average age of fatalities was 32 years and 82% were male. Drivers of motor vehicles had the lowest odds of mortality following RTCs. Compared to drivers; pedestrians had the highest odds of mortality (OR 39, 95% CI 34, 45) followed by bicyclists (OR 26, 95% CI 22, 31). The average case fatality rate was 17% / year, and showed an increased throughout the study period.

Conclusions: RTCs are a common cause of injury in Malawi. Approximately one-third of RTCs involved at least one death at the scene. Pedestrians were particularly vulnerable, exhibiting very high odds of mortality when involved in a road traffic collision. We encourage the use of these data to develop strategies in LMIC countries to protect pedestrians and other road users from RTCs.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1995-7262
print ISSN: 1995-7270