Objective Developing countries are experiencing the highest burden of road traffic injuries (RTI) with more than 85% of road traffic deaths worldwide. Epidemiologic data are scarce in sub Saharan Africa to inform interventions. We aimed to estimate RTI-related mortality and assess the burden on vulnerable road users in Cameroon.
Methods We conducted a study of all police reports of road accidents involving personal injury for the years 2007–2009, over the entire 10 275 km interurban road network of Cameroon, a 20-million inhabitants sub Saharan African country. We analysed crash type, type of road user, impact type, crash severity, number of casualties, and fatality. Full reports were available for 64.5 % of all reported accidents.
Results The average daily traffic was 159 914 vehicles/year. A total of 2074 crashes were recorded in 2007, 2420 in 2008, and 2091 in 2009, causing 1257, 1433 and 1274 deaths in 2007, 2008, and 2009 respectively, and yielding a crude average of 128 fatalities per 100 million kilometres driven, 60 times higher than in Europe. The average mortality rate per road accident varied from 60.5 to 61.4% across the years. Pedestrians accounted for 30.3% of all deaths, and 34.2% of deaths resulted from crashes involving motorcycle users. Vulnerable road users, including pedestrians and motorcycle users represented 51% of all deaths.
Conclusion Road traffic injury is a major cause of death in Cameroon. Further research is warranted to develop context-appropriate and effective prevention strategies to reduce this epidemic and protect the particular at-risk road user groups.