Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Public Health

The Spatial and Temporal Dimensions of Child Pedestrian Injury in Edmonton

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Public Health

The Spatial and Temporal Dimensions of Child Pedestrian Injury in Edmonton

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Objectives: This paper describes the temporal and spatial distribution of child pedestrian injury within Edmonton, Alberta for four fiscal years (1995-96 through 1998-99), and compares this pattern to temporal and spatial data on traffic volume.

Methods: We used injury data obtained through an ongoing emergency department (ED) surveillance system involving all hospitals in Alberta's Capital Health Region. We identified peak times of injury occurrence and the location of high injury incidence as indicated by census tract of residence. Empirical Bayes estimation procedures were used to calculate stable injury incidence ratios. Cartographic and correlation analyses identified the relationship between traffic volume and injury incidence.

Results: Child pedestrian injury occurred most frequently during morning (0700-0900 hrs) and late afternoon (1500-1800 hrs) which corresponds with peak periods of vehicular traffic flow. The highest incidence rates occurred in or near areas of high traffic volume, notably in the central and west-central parts of Edmonton.

Discussion: These findings emphasize the importance of considering spatial and temporal patterns in pedestrian injury research, as well as the need to incorporate these patterns in prevention strategies. Changing the times that children attend school may reduce the convergence of pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

Pedestrian injury is a leading cause of death in children. In 1996, 183 children aged 0-14 years died in Canada as a result of motor vehicle-related collisions, 63 of which involved pedestrians.' When compared to 1996 data on other major causes of death within this age group (208 deaths from cancer, 79 deaths associated with respiratory illness and 126 deaths related to diseases of the nervous system and sense organs), pedestrian injury fatalities are seen to be a significant public health concern.1

Interest in the environment as a key component of injury risk and prevention has been growing, most likely as a result of the inconsistent success of educational prevention strategies that focus on behaviour modification.2 Of the many environmental risk factors that have been investigated, the volume and density of traffic show a consistent relationship with increased risk of child pedestrian injury.3-6 Research in Edmonton, Alberta, has shown that more modern neighbourhood planning types have lower pedestrian injury rates.7 Children are typically injured in the morning and in the mid-afternoon,8 which for many children, coincides with periods of travel to and from school. The specific role that traffic volume has on risk, and the interaction between time of peak pedestrian traffic and peak automobile traffic, remains largely unexplored, however. Traffic volume varies by time and place in most cities, and understanding the relationship between vehicular and pedestrian traffic density may offer unique opportunities for prevention.

A two-pronged approach, considering both time and space, is needed to minimize the interaction between child pedestrians and automobile traffic. Before this type of intervention can be designed and implemented, it is necessary to identify when and where child pedestrians are being injured. We hypothesize that injury incidence varies throughout the course of the day, as well as throughout the city of Edmonton, and that this variation coincides with variation in traffic density. Thus the primary purposes of this paper are to 1) describe the temporal and spatial distribution of child pedestrian injury within Edmonton for four fiscal years (1995-96 through 1998-99), and 2) relate this pattern to temporal and spatial data on traffic volume.

METHODS

The Alberta Centre for Injury Control and Research provided four fiscal years (199596 to 1998-99) of injury data through an ongoing emergency department (ED) surveillance system involving all hospitals in the Capital Health Region, an administrative health unit located in central Alberta. …

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