FRIDAY, Sept. 3, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Pedestrians hit by a motor vehicle are much more likely to die if they're uninsured or a member of a racial minority than their counterparts who are white or insured, even if they sustain similar injuries, a new study shows.
It also found that minority pedestrians are far more likely than whites to be hit by a vehicle.
"It's a double whammy. Minorities are much more likely to get injured by this mechanism and much more likely to die by this mechanism," senior study author Dr. Adil H. Haider, an assistant professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a university news release.
The researchers analyzed National Trauma Data Bank information on 26,404 people hit by vehicles between 2002 and 2006. Compared to white patients involved in similar crashes, the risk of death was significantly higher for minorities -- 22 percent greater for blacks and 33 percent higher for Hispanics, although they were all treated in emergency rooms.
Uninsured pedestrian victims were 77 percent more likely to die than those with insurance.
The higher death rates among the uninsured and minorities aren't due to greater rates of injury, the researchers stressed.
"Do we treat minorities and the uninsured differently? I don't think so, but we've got to ask the question. We don't actually know what is leading to these disparities," Haider said.
Earlier research has shown that insurance status and race may increase the risk of death due to delays in treatment or unequal care.
In this study, researchers suggested that higher rates of -- or lack of treatment for -- health problems such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension may increase the risk of death among injured minority or uninsured pedestrian victims.
The study appears in the August issue of the journal Surgery.
The American College of Emergency Physicians has more about pedestrian safety.