For healthcare professionals only

Research Article

Incidence and implications of natural deaths of road users.

BMJ 1988; 297 doi: (Published 22 October 1988) Cite this as: BMJ 1988;297:1021
  1. M. S. Christian
  1. Accident and Emergency Department, Wexham Park Hospital, Slough.


    A prospective study was carried out over the 10 years 1978-87 to determine the incidence and implications of sudden death in road users--that is, drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. During the study period 30,000 patients were seen in the same accident and emergency departments of East Berkshire after road traffic incidents or accidents, of whom 267 either were brought in dead or died within two hours after arrival. Of these patients, 64 (24%) were found to have died of natural causes due to pre-existing disease or to have been killed in an incident that occurred as a result of a medical or psychiatric condition. Twelve of the patients sustained physical injury; all 64 came to necropsy. Only one incident resulted in the death of another person in addition to the natural death of a patient. It is concluded that sudden natural death occurring in road users does not present an appreciable hazard to other road users.