May 2007

CIHI report highlights pedestrian injury

The number of children and youth being hospitalized with pedestrian injuries has fallen by about 50% in the last decade, says a new injury hospitalization report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Older Canadians continue to suffer the greatest number of pedestrian injuries and the worst outcomes. The data are from the 2006 National Trauma Registry Injury Hospitalizations Highlights Report. It provides an overview of patients hospitalized due to trauma in all acute care facilities in Canada for 2004-2005. A total of 196,865 people were admitted to Canadian hospitals for traumatic injuries of all types in that year. In other words, 539 Canadians are hospitalized across the nation each day for injury – or 22 every hour.

Pedestrian injuries

The report includes a special focus on pedestrian injuries. On average, nine Canadians were admitted to hospital every day for a pedestrian injury in 2004-2005, the CIHI report said, but that’s down 31% over 10 years – from 4,516 to 3,117. The numbers for children and youth showed the greatest improvement with a decline of 51% for all those under 20 and a 62% drop for children under 5. Older Canadians continue to suffer the greatest number of injuries as pedestrians, and the worst outcomes. In 2004-2005, 928 people aged 60 years and older were admitted to hospital for pedestrian injuries, which is 30% of all such admissions. By comparison, this age group represents only 12% of the total population, CIHI says. Seniors also spend the longest amount of time in hospital for their injuries, with an average of 16 days, compared to 7 for all age groups. Also, 9% of the older pedestrians admitted for pedestrian injuries died in hospital, twice the national average.

Prevention measures working

"The good news is that admissions for pedestrian injuries are on the decline overall, especially for children, “ said Margaret Keresteci, CIHI's manager of Clinical Registries in a CIHI news release. “This might be the result of measures such as the speed limit reduction around schools and playgrounds, education about walking between parked cars and awareness about children in driveways. “As well, car manufacturers have changed the design of bumpers to a rounded design, which may have had an impact in reducing the severity of injuries when they happen," she said. "However, older Canadians are more vulnerable to serious injuries when involved in a pedestrian incident, which is of particular concern given the aging of the Canadian population."

Alcohol a factor for young men

After seniors, young adults, especially men, were most likely to die in hospital after being injured while pedestrians. Their injuries were also most likely to occur on a Saturday night. "Alcohol is a factor in pedestrian injuries, especially for young men," said Ms. Keresteci. "One third of all adult pedestrians who were tested for blood alcohol level when hospitalized for severe injuries were under the influence of alcohol in 2004. Among those, four out of five (82%) were young men."

Overall trends in injury hospitalizations

Injury remains the leading cause of death in Canada for those under 45 years and is a serious cause of disability.

  • In 2004-2005, a total of 196,865 people were admitted to a Canadian hospital for traumatic injuries of all types. That’s up by about 1% from the previous year but down 11% from 10 years before.
  • Unintentional falls were the leading cause of injury hospitalization, representing 57% of all trauma admissions (112,646 cases)
  • Motor vehicle collisions were the second highest, at 14% or 26,676. 
  • Persons aged 65 and over accounted for 41% of all injury hospitalizations. The vast majority – 84% – were for unintentional falls.
  • The greatest share of homicide and purposefully inflicted injury hospitalizations was among persons 20-34.

Updated May 10, 2007