Potential gains in life expectancy by improving road safety in China

Q. Li, S. Ma, D. Bishai, Adnan Ali Hyder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objectives Road traffic injuries (RTI) cause a significant number of injuries and deaths in China every year; the World Health Organization estimated 261,367 deaths due to RTI in 2013. As a result of the ongoing growth of China's economy, road construction and motorisation, RTI are expected to impose a heavy health burden in the future. However, the public and policy makers have not widely perceived RTI as a public health issue commensurate with its consequences, in part, due to a lack of intuitive indicator measuring the health impact. Study Design Employs the cause-eliminating life table technique to provide a measure of the burden of RTI based on data from a nationally representative surveillance system in China. Methods Previous studies have used indicators such as event counts, rates and disability-adjusted life years to measure the health impact of RTI; but this study uses potential gains in life expectancy to measure this impact. Results Eliminating RTI could lead to a gain of 0.52 years in life expectancy in 2012, meaning that on average Chinese people could live a half year more than they would in the presence of RTI. Males have a substantially higher RTI death rate and consequently could have a gain in life expectancy more than twice as large as females (male 0.72 years vs female 0.28 years). The gain in rural areas (0.65 years) is twice that in urban areas (0.32 years). Conclusions The significant gain in life expectancy signals the urgency for public actions to improve road safety; the disparity in the burden across regions and sexes indicate a great opportunity for targeted interventions to protect health and save lives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S57-S61
JournalPublic Health
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • China
  • Life expectancy
  • Road traffic injuries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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