Loose dresses and dupattas major cause of road traffic injuries: study

Published July 2, 2014
Loose dress with trailing ends is a major contributor to road injuries suffered by women pillion riders in Karachi, says recently launched study. —AP photo
Loose dress with trailing ends is a major contributor to road injuries suffered by women pillion riders in Karachi, says recently launched study. —AP photo

KARACHI: Loose dress with trailing ends is a major contributor to road traffic injuries suffered by women pillion riders in the city, it emerged on Tuesday.

“Women suffered injuries in 74 per cent cases out of 986 clothing-related road traffic injuries recorded in three years. The risk analysis data shows that female pillion riders were 31 times likely to be involved in clothing-related motorcycle injuries than male pillion riders. Further estimation shows that 97pc of clothing-related injuries in pillion riders could be attributed to females,” said a study, Clothing-related motorcycle injuries in Pakistan: findings from a surveillance study, published in the International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion.

It is the first surveillance-based study describing the patterns of clothing related injuries in Karachi.

The department of emergency medicine of the Aga Khan University Hospital, Aman Healthcare Services, Road Traffic Injury Research and Prevention Centre conducted the study in collaboration with Public Health Solutions Pakistan Private Limited, Lahore and Douglas Hospital Research Centre, Montreal, Canada.

The data of road traffic injuries was taken from an ongoing surveillance study launched by the Road Traffic Injury Research and Prevention Centre in emergency departments of five major hospitals — Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, Civil Hospital Karachi, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Aga Khan University Hospital and Liaquat National Hospital — in Karachi.

According to findings of the research, 99,155 cases of road traffic injuries were reported between January 2007 and December 2009.

While the victims included 11,146 females, almost two-thirds of the injured were either motorbike riders (42.9pc) or pillion riders (17pc). Almost all riders were male, whereas females accounted for about 26pc of pillion riders.

Out of these, 986 cases were related to injuries caused by clothing, mostly to women (78pc) and pillion riders (81pc). In most cases, single vehicles (98.5pc) were involved in crashes caused due to loose clothing. The injuries were largely external (60.3pc); limbs (51.0pc), head (41.5pc) and face (35.9pc).

One-third of injuries were moderate (26.7pc) or severe (10.2pc), while 10 (1.01pc) deaths were reported. Female gender (11.4pc), age less than 45 years (19.4pc), pillion riding (11.3pc) and crashes occurring at traffic intersections (12.3pc) were more likely to result in moderate or severe injury as compared to other users.

One million motorbikes in 2010

According to the study, the number of motorbikes in Karachi was one million in 2010 and it is estimated to be 3.6m by 2030. Lack of public transport and high fuel costs cause low-income families to use motorcycles as a convenient and cost-effective family transport medium.

Clothing-related injury cases were predominantly young, aged less than 45 years (89.4pc), 49.7pc were between 19 and 34 years and 20.6pc were between five and 18 years.

Two-thirds of the cases were involved in crashes in midblock sections of the road. Only 1.4pc of the cases reported wearing helmets at the time of injury, and none amongst the females.

Regarding disposition of the cases, 10 deaths occurred in the emergency department; 107 (10.0pc) cases were admitted to the hospital, whereas the rest were discharged from the emergency department. Most of these injuries suffered by women in summers between August and October, whereas in males the increased injuries occurred in winter months.

One case of dress-related injuries a day

“On average, one case of motorcycle-related clothing injuries occurs each day in Karachi. Female pillion riders are particularly vulnerable to these injuries. The traditional baggy clothes with loosely draped scarf/dupatta are a major hazard in South Asia for those riding motorcycles,” the study found.

It also recommended various measures to prevent such injuries. “Firstly, the public needs to be aware about the injuries caused by loose clothing along with the importance of wearing helmets. Secondly, there is a need to educate road users, particularly women, so that they do not wear loose clothes or trailing scarves/dupatta while using motorcycles rather they should wear scarves of less length or properly wrap and tuck them to eliminate dangling ends.

“Thirdly, local motorbike manufacturers could be informed of the burden of clothing-related injuries so that they develop purpose-designed covers for the rear wheel and effective encasement of the motorcycle’s drive chain,” it added.

Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2014

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