Why'd the Man Cross the Road?

Male pedestrians twice as likely to die in collisions with vehicles

(RxWiki News) Stop, look and listen: it applies to everyone and not just kids and chickens crossing the road. Guys should be extra careful as well.

Although the number of pedestrian fatalities is low to begin with, men are more than twice as likely as women to die from collisions with vehicles, according to a recently published study.

This research stresses the need to find better ways to prevent these excess pedestrian deaths.

"Keep to the sidewalk with your head up."

A third of the 1.2 million traffic fatalities around the globe are pedestrians. Researchers, led by Motao Zhu, PhD, from the Department of Epidemiology and Injury Control Research Center at West Virginia University, say that men are over-represented in that mixture.

Dr. Zhu and colleagues examined why male pedestrians are injured more often than women in traffic collisions. Between 2008 and 2009, researchers gathered information from over 150,000 households through three different databases, including the US Fatality Analysis Reporting System, National Household Travel Survey and General Estimates System. They included pedestrians 5 years of age and older.

Participants were recruited by phone and asked to log all their daily trips over a randomly assigned 24-hour period, which tracked how far people walked. Researchers also looked at the number of collisions per kilometer walked and how many died in each collision.

Across the US, researchers found more than 8,200 people were fatally injured in pedestrian/car accidents between 2008 and 2009. Men made up two out of every three victims.

Men and women both reported walking about 183 kilometers each year. Male pedestrians died 2.3 times more often than women each year.

In examining the reasons why more men died, getting hit by a car explained 79 percent of these deaths. Walking more frequently accounted for 1 percent of the deaths among men, and the other 20 percent was an increased number of collisions per distance walked.

“Of course, we already know that a vehicle’s speed affects the severity of a person’s injuries,” Dr. Zhu said in a press release.

"Alcohol involvement can also play a large role, and not just with drivers. While most people know not to drive while drunk, it’s not safe to walk the streets while impaired either."

Further research is needed to find why men are dying more often than women. The authors say they will be looking at other factors to see why men are likelier to be in fatal collisions, such as walking or crossing along highways and high speed roads.

The databases may also have underestimated how far pedestrians walked and limited the participants being studied since they only included those contacted by landline phone.

The authors had no conflicts of interest to declare.

The study was published online November 29 in the Injury Prevention journal. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism under the National Institutes of Health funded the study. 

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Review Date: 
December 19, 2012