Study of Factors Predictive Of Outcome of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Accident Victims Shows Danger Lurks Even in Supposedly Safe Places

In 2012 in New York City, there were 274 traffic deaths, the most in four years. In 2010, 11,000 pedestrians and 3,500 bicyclists were injured in motor vehicle accidents in New York City. Road safety constitutes an international crisis, so states a study by doctors at NYU Langone Medical Center of pedestrians and bicyclists struck by motor vehicles in New York City’s central business district and surrounding area between December 2008 and June 2011. The intent of the study was to identify the demographic and behavioral factors predicting the outcome of patients, including considering the Injury Severity Score (ISS).

Sidewalk and signal-obeying crosswalk users are at risk. Six percent of pedestrians were injured while on a sidewalk. More of those injured on the street were injured while using a crosswalk with the signal (44 percent) compared with 23 percent who crossed midblock and 9 percent who crossed against the signal.

For all of the dangers associated with obesity (Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s soft drink restrictions come to mind), the study showed having an above normal body mass index can result in less severe injuries immediately following the accident (but more prone to complications thereafter). Other variables with lower ISS scores include bicycling, being Latino or black, and being struck by a taxicab or turning vehicle.

Variables associated with high ISS include alcohol, being less than 18 years of age, hearing impairment, and struck by a truck or bus. Mortality was 1.2%.

The study also found that pedestrians sustain more severe/critical injuries and hospital admissions than bicyclists. Bicyclists are more commonly struck by taxis than are pedestrians, and they infrequently wear helmets.

The results involving alcohol demonstrated that consuming alcohol is not a problem only for drivers. Among patients 18 and older, 15 percent of pedestrians and 11 percent of cyclists were found to have consumed alcohol before the collision.

Not surprisingly, using electronic devices also contributed to the accidents. About 8 percent of both pedestrians and cyclists said they were injured while using an electronic device. The numbers climbed to more than 10 percent of pedestrians and nearly 30 percent of cyclists for those ages 7 to 17.

The time of day can also affect injury rates. About 60 percent of pedestrians were struck between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays.

The study was published in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.

A 2010 NYC Transportation Department report on pedestrian safety focused on the frequency, location and timing of accidents.

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