Research Article: Preliminary study on alterations of altitude road traffic in China from 2006 to 2013

Date Published: February 10, 2017

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Hui Zhao, Zhiyong Yin, Hongyi Xiang, Zhikang Liao, Zhengguo Wang, Jun Xu.

http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0171090

Abstract

Road traffic can play an important role in strengthening regional economic activities, especially at high altitude, and it is necessary to know important traffic-related information. Although previous studies reported on road traffic in China, there has been little research on high-altitude road traffic to date.

The annual official census of road traffic safety from 2006 to 2013 was used to obtain data on the general population, registered drivers, registered vehicles, newly built roads, road traffic accidents (RTAs), mortality rate per 100 000 populations and per 10 000 vehicles in high-altitude provinces, including Tibet, Qinghai, Xinjiang, Gansu, Yunnan, Sichuan, and Chongqing. These provincial data were reviewed retrospectively, with the national data as the reference. Statistical analysis (i.e., t test) was used to compare the estimated average annual change rate of population, number of registered drivers, registered vehicles, and newly built roads in high-altitude provinces with the national rates.

Compared with the national data, there are significantly higher annual rates of population growth in Tibet and Xinjiang, registered drivers in Gansu, registered vehicles in Gansu, Sichuan, and Chongqing, and newly built roads in Tibet and Qinghai. Among the investigated provinces, Tibet, Qinghai, and Yunnan had a higher proportion of the roads with the high class. RTAs and RTA-induced casualties in the high-altitude provinces indicated a decreasing trend. The mortality rate per 10 000 vehicles and per 100 000 populations showed a decreasing trend, while the RTA-related mortality rate in Tibet, Qinghai, Xinjiang and Gansu remained high.

Major changes for road traffic in high-altitude provinces have occurred over the past decade; however, the RTA-related mortality rate in high-altitude provinces has remained high. This study furthers understanding about road traffic safety in China; further studies on road traffic safety at high altitude should be performed.

Partial Text

Road traffic can play an important role in strengthening regional economic activities, especially at high altitude. With increasing road traffic around the world, road traffic accidents (RTAs) represent a great threat to public health, especially in middle- and low- income countries. According to the World Health Organization [1–2], over 1.2 million people die each year on the world’s roads, and up to 50 million people incur non-fatal injuries as a result of RTAs. The WHO [3] predicted that, by 2030, road traffic deaths will become the fifth leading cause of death if urgent action is not taken in time.

A research team was established and trained to collect road traffic-pertinent data. We compiled the annual census data from 2006 to 2013 issued by the Bureau of Traffic Management of the Ministry of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China [4, 19–25], in which the traffic-pertinent elements such as populations, vehicles, drivers, roads, accidents, injuries and fatalities, were officially reported. We then examined the population, registered vehicles and drivers, newly built roads, road types, RTAs, RTA-induced injuries and fatalities, and the mortality rate per 10 000 vehicles and per 100 000 populations in high-altitude provinces of China. The investigated provinces were Tibet, Qinghai, Xinjiang, Gansu, Yunnan, Sichuan, and Chongqing (Fig 1), in which the elevations of the investigated provinces were indicated using the various colors. National data were used as the reference point. The investigated traffic-pertinent elements (S1–S8 Tables) were uploaded as the supporting files by the altitude provinces and national.

In contrast to the annual population growth between 2006 and 2013 (Table 1), a sharp increase in the number of the registered drivers in high-altitude provinces was found (Table 2). Gansu had a significantly higher average annual growth rate in the number of registered drivers (0.13±0.030), compared with the national rate (0.093±0.018; p<0.05). Developing road traffic in high-altitude is important for improving the economic activities in such regions, and remains a considerable challenge due to environmental conditions. Currently, there remains a paucity of studies regarding the road traffic in high-altitude areas. In the current study, road traffic in high-altitude provinces was studied in great detail using official census data from 2006 to 2013. Road traffic-pertinent information related to drivers, vehicles, and roads, was analyzed retrospectively and compared with the national data. The authors considered that the presently reported results with regard to road traffic safety at high altitude may be valuable for attracting the attention of experts, including those engaged in the research on safe roads, safe vehicles and safe people to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities [18], especially for low or middle income countries [17]. The annual census data on road traffic issued by the Bureau of Traffic Management of the Ministry of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China from 2006 to 2013 were reviewed retrospectively. Our results suggest that significant changes have occurred in road traffic-related factors affecting drivers, vehicles, and roads. Compared with the national data, a significantly higher average annual growth rate was observed in the populations of Tibet and Xinjiang, as well as in registered drivers in Gansu, registered vehicles in Sichuan, Gansu, and Chongqing, and newly-built roads in Tibet and Qinghai. In 2013, there was a high proportion of roads with a high class in Tibet, Qinghai, and Yunnan. The overall RTA-related mortality rate showed a decreasing trend from 2006 to 2013; however the mortality rate remained high in Tibet, Qinghai, Xinjiang, and Gansu, compared with the national rate. Despite the limitations of this study, the findings may attract more attention to road traffic safety at high altitude, and encourage further studies on road traffic in high-altitude settings.   Source: http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0171090