Department of Public Health

The Department

Road traffic accidents have emerged as an important public health issue which needs to be tackled by a multi-disciplinary approach. The trend in road accident injuries and death is becoming alarming in developing countries like India. The number of fatal and disabling road accident happening is increasing day by day and is a real public health challenge for all the concerned agencies to prevent it.

A scientific system approach addresses the traffic system as a whole and look into interactions between vehicle, road users, and road infrastructure to identify solution. The approach to implement the rules and regulations available to prevent road accidents is often ineffective and half-hearted. Awareness creation, strict implementation of traffic rules, and scientific engineering measures are the need of the hour to prevent this public health catastrophe. There are three central characteristics of the public health approach: it is focused on prevention, based on science, and collaborative by nature.

This department is intended to create awareness among the health professionals about the various modalities available to prevent road accidents and also to inculcate a sense of responsibility toward spreading the message of road safety as a good citizen of our country.

Primary Prevention:

At the Department of Public Health for Road Safety, data is collected on the magnitude, characteristics, extent and consequences of road traffic crashes through injury surveillance. Principles of epidemiology are applied to analyze the patterns of incidence and determinants of injury. Behavioral science is used to increase knowledge of the social and Behavioral aspects of high-risk driving behaviour.

  • Stress and fatigue
  • Falling health of heavy vehicle drivers of the unorganized sector
  • Alcohol, drugs & driving
  • Youth driving behaviour
  • Occupational Injury
  • Post-crash management

Trauma Care & Rehabilitation: First hour after the trauma is called the “golden hour”. If proper first aid is given, road accident victims have a greater chance of survival & a reduction in the severity of their injuries. The Trauma Research & Training Center at Department undertakes research on the type of injuries that occur and their consequences, research that contributes to development of tools and improved trauma systems as well as training. This training is targeted at various stake-holders, including the first responders to crashes such as the highway patrol, traffic police, and ambulance staff. In rural areas the stake holders include villages along the highway, educational institutions and most importantly the youth.

Road traffic crashes not only affect the victims, but also their families, friends, and employers. In developing countries like India, the cost of long-term care for the injured or the loss of income due to disability drive many families into poverty. The Department of Public Health for Road Safety studies post-accident sequelae which are related to socio- economic determinants. Imparting knowledge in this sector helps to reduce disability and catalyze the process of rehabilitation.

Program priorities

The Department of Public Health for Road Safety examines issues in primary prevention, trauma care, and rehabilitation. Epidemiological and statistical analysis of road safety data is used to address a number of priority areas.

Risk and protective factors with respect to road users: Road safety can only be improved once the factual causes and consequences of road crashes are known. Police records and crash data in India list drivers as being responsible for majority of the road crashes, blaming them for serious violations and carelessness. These are only a partial set of possible risk and precipitating factors. Available research from organisations like NIMHANS & IRTE have estimated that many crashes due to driver negligence could be attributed to physical and mental conditions. Police reports do not reveal other contributing factors about road users such as a driver's ill health, stress, fatigue, tiredness or visual impairment which may have contributed to these crashes.

Investigation of delays in transportation or mishandling of crash victims: it is important to look into how many injuries became serious injuries and how many serious ones turn into fatalities due to delays in transportation or lack of optimal trauma care. Additionally, we lack information about what happened to the injured persons in their lifetime, and how many of these victims subsequently died or suffered from disabilities during the course of their life.

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