Background: Regional differences in road traffic (RT) mortality among municipalities have not been revealed in Japan. Further, the association between RT mortality and regional socioeconomic characteristics has not been investigated. We analyzed geographic differences in RT mortality and its associated factors using the Vital Statistics in Japan. Methods: We used data on RT mortality by sex and municipality in Japan from 2013 to 2017. We calculated the standardized mortality ratio (SMR) of RT for each municipality by sex using an Empirical Bayes method. The SMRs were mapped onto a map of Japan to show the geographic differences. In addition, an ecological study investigated the municipal characteristics associated with the SMR using demographic socioeconomic, medical, weather, and vehicular characteristics as explanatory variables. The ecological study used a spatial statistical model. Results: The mapping revealed that the number of municipalities with a high SMR of RT (SMR > 2) was larger in men than in women. In addition, SMRs of capital areas (Kanagawa and Tokyo prefectures) tended to be low in men and women. The regression analysis revealed that population density was negatively associated with the SMR in men and women, and the degree of the association was the largest among explanatory variables. In contrast, there was a positive association between the proportion of non-Japanese persons and SMR. The proportions of lower educational level (elementary school or junior high school graduates), agriculture, forestry, and fisheries workers, service workers, and blue-collar workers were positively associated with the SMR in men. The proportion of unemployed persons was negatively associated with the SMR in men. Conclusions: Socioeconomic characteristics are associated with geographic differences in RT mortality particularly in men. The results suggested preventive measures targeted at men of low socioeconomic status and non-Japanese persons are needed to decrease RT mortality further.
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