Paediatrics Publications


Impact of COVID-19 on motor vehicle injuries and fatalities in older adults in Ontario, Canada

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Accident Analysis and Prevention



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Background: Older adults constitute the group most vulnerable to COVID-19 mortality. As a result, in North America and elsewhere, older adults have been strongly advised to shelter in place. Older adults also represent the fastest growing segment of licensed drivers. Objective: We examined the change in injuries and fatalities sustained by younger and older drivers and pedestrians during the first month of the COVID-19 pandemic. We hypothesized that adults ages 80 years and over would have a proportionally larger reduction than the other drivers and pedestrians. Methods: Using a cohort design, we compared the proportion of drivers and pedestrians involved in injuries and fatalities attributable to individuals aged 80 years and over, as recorded in the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (Canada) database, between the 30 days prior to shelter-in-place related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent 30 days. By way of comparison, we conducted a similar comparison for younger age cohorts (16−24 years, 25−34 years, 35−54 years, 55−64 years, and 65−79 years). Results: Drivers aged 80 years and over represented 21 per 1000 injuries and fatalities in the 30 days prior to March 17, 2020 (95 % CI: 15−29), and 8 per 1000 injuries and fatalities in the 30 days beginning on that date (95 % CI: 2−20), a 64.7 % reduction (exp (β) post 0.353, 95 % CI 0.105−0.892). Drivers in the 35−54 year age range underwent a significant but smaller reduction of 22.9 %; no significant changes were seen for drivers in other age groups, or for pedestrians of any age. Conclusions and relevance: The physical distancing measures that aimed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 resulted in a marked reduction in driver injuries and fatalities in the oldest old, illustrating the impact of physical distancing recommendations in this population. The excess mortality burden faced by the oldest adults during the COVID-19 pandemic, by direct exposure to the virus, may be indirectly mitigated by the reduction in road-related deaths in this cohort.

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