Significantly more road traffic injuries occur in poor urban areas compared with wealthier areas, indicates a study recently published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Researchers studied nearly 20,000 victims injured over five years at 17,498 intersections in Montreal. They also looked at the characteristics of each of the intersections and their neighborhoods, such as traffic estimates, population density, means of commuting and household income.

They found that traffic volume at intersections increased significantly with poverty. At intersections in the poorest census tracts, there were an average 6.3 times more pedestrians injured, 3.9 times more cyclists injured and 4.3 times more motor vehicle occupants injured than in the wealthiest census tracts. They concluded that roadway environment can explain a substantial portion of the excess rate of road traffic injuries in the poorest urban area.

An article in the Los Angeles Times reports, “The researchers calculated that for every 1,000 additional vehicles that pass through an intersection each day, the number of people injured in cars rose by 7 percent, the number of injured pedestrians rose by 6 percent, and the number of injured cyclist rose by 5 percent. Since poorer neighborhoods had more traffic, they also had more injuries.”

“Our results contribute to identifying plausible causal pathways for inequalities in road traffic injuries across neighborhoods. They also suggest that large-scale environmental preventive strategies, such as traffic volume reduction and safer roadway design, may have large public health benefits by reducing crashes,” the study’s authors wrote.