In many Western countries, trauma is the chief cause of death in children aged one to 14 years. A large number of these deaths are the result of motor vehicle accidents or drowning. It is postulated that the causes of such trauma can be classified into (a) non-specific, predetermining social factors; (b) specific social factors; and (c) acute triggers. Prevention strategies vary considerably for these three groups. Prevention is most cost-effective when directed against specific social factors. In this paper, data for childhood motor vehicle and drowning fatalities in Australia have been analysed and scored for non-specific social influences on childhood accidents such as overcrowding or poverty. This approach allows the ranking of different communities by risk. Motor vehicle accident ratios have been calculated, and these are sufficiently specific, by age and sex, to enable comparisons to be made in future with other communities.
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