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InvestigationsChris Hartlove


Road Work Ahead

For many working in public health, economic development is a wind at their back: As incomes rise, for example, the incidence of infectious disease tends to diminish.

But for the experts at the Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit (IIRU), economic development sometimes creates dangerous headwinds. This is particularly true of road traffic injuries. “As development proceeds, you have more roads, but not necessarily safer roads,” says JH-IIRU director Adnan Ali Hyder, MD, PhD ’98, MPH ’93. “So you have roads where people actually drive faster and not necessarily safer.”

Hyder first became interested in road traffic injuries (RTIs) 20 years ago as a young physician in northern Pakistan, where he treated many motor vehicle–related injuries. RTIs kill more than 1.2 million people annually. Yet they attract far less attention than HIV or malaria, a gap that Hyder set out to fill.

Hyder established IIRU to collect data and train new practitioners. One of the Unit’s major projects is a multicountry collaboration with other institutions called Road Safety in 10 Countries Project (RS-10), supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

RS-10 has already yielded new data on the prevalence of seatbelt use and speeding rates in major developing countries that had not been previously available. In Kenya, where the project also addresses trauma care, IIRU has identified key areas for improvement, developed a trauma care registry and helped strengthen trauma care legislation. And IIRU has trained more than 550 individuals worldwide—from researchers, to health specialists, to transportation professionals, to data collectors. IIRU is now in the process of developing a free online training program to reach many more, says Hyder.

“The other thing that is happening as a result of this project is that health [researchers are] working very closely with police and transport, and that has not traditionally happened much,” says Hyder, adding that this cross-sectoral collaboration is important to any project seeking to improve global road safety in the future.



  • Fehmida Visnegarwala

    India 02/27/2013 01:15:20 AM

    It is very enthusing to see this important piece of research being done by Dr. Wilcox. Understanding he epidemiology and the who, when and how of suicides is the first step towards prevention. Thank you for all the good work!

  • A Schulz

    Wisconsin 02/27/2013 02:35:26 PM

    We need to change the parameters of discussion to seeing that the energy in the bullet, as released by the gun, is the major factor that determines injury and can be regulated just as we regulate other forms of energy. The 2nd A. debate can be avoided if we regulate bullets and guns as energy that is potentially dangerous for the public regardless of whether the triggering activity is anger, mental illness, video games, political disagreement, or simple mistaken identity. We don't allow the energy in a grenade in a pocket, but in many cases would be less dangerous than a handgun or high capacity rapid fire, low recoil rifle. The whole discussion has to change focus. By the way, I am a former Marine, former NRA member, gun owner, hunter, RN,middle aged, middle class, white male, exactly the demographic the NRA claims to represent. They do not represent me. Oh, I also have been assaulted 4 times by people with handguns , and if I had been armed, I would have been shot right away and my gun stolen. I take this issue both personally and professionally very seriously.

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