Police and hospital data for 1977-81 were used to investigate road accidents in Sri Lanka. Analysis showed that pedestrians and pedal cyclists were particularly at risk. After the introduction of legislation making it compulsory for motor cyclists to wear safety helmets, preliminary analysis found that 12 per cent fewer riders had been injured. However, statistical tests showed there was no significant difference in the distribution of accidents by degree of severity before or after crash helmet legislation. Surveys showed that almost 80 per cent of riders wore their helmets correctly. Underreporting of road accidents was studied in two stages. Initially hospital casualty data were compared with the data held by the hospital police posts. Eighty per cent of the data were common to both sets of records. Secondly, hospital data were matched with accident records stored at the Police Headquarters. Less than 25 per cent of the hospital records were identified in the police data. Length of stay in hospital was found to be fairly well related to clinical severity as defined by the Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS). A three-category classification is suggested: not detained for less than four nights and detained for four or more nights. These values are different from those recommended in a similar study carried out in the UK. (A)

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