South African Journal of Surgery
On-line version ISSN 2078-5151
HOWLETT, J B; ALDOUS, C and CLARKE, D L. Injuries sustained by passengers travelling in the cargo area of light delivery vehicles. S. Afr. j. surg. [online]. 2014, vol.52, n.2, pp. 49-52. ISSN 2078-5151.
INTRODUCTION: Despite its inherently dangerous nature, the practice of transporting passengers in the cargo area of light delivery vehicles (LDVs) is widespread in South Africa. OBJECTIVE: To review the patterns and outcome of injuries associated with events involving LDVs transporting passengers. METHODS: All patients presenting to the Pietermaritzburg Metropolitan Trauma Service in KwaZulu-Natal Province following an event in which they had been travelling in the cargo area of an LDV between January 2011 and December 2012 were included in the audit. RESULTS: A total of 66 patients were treated during the study period; 35% were children under the age of 18, and 90% were ejected from the LDV during the incident. The mean injury severity score (ISS) was 23. Collision events were associated with a higher mean ISS (33) than non-collision events (15) (p=0.008). The region most commonly injured was the head and neck, and 11% of victims sustained a permanent disability. The patients collectively spent 873 days in hospital and 70 days in an intensive care unit, and underwent 17 operations. CONCLUSION: Transporting passengers in the cargo area of an LDV is dangerous, as ejection from the vehicle resulting from a collision is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Legislative initiatives to prevent this practice are required as part of an ongoing comprehensive injury prevention programme.