World Health Organization Issues Dire Predictions on Road Safety


  • World Health Organization Picture

    World Health Organization Picture

    The World Health Organization is calling for more laws to improve road safety globally. | March 15, 2013

Just the Facts:
  • A new study by the World Health Organization is predicting a dramatic increase in the number of road traffic deaths worldwide unless "urgent action is taken."
  • Road traffic injuries are the eighth leading cause of death globally and the leading cause of death for young people aged 15-29, the study said.
  • "Current trends suggest that by 2030, road traffic deaths will become the fifth leading cause of death unless urgent action is taken," the study said.

GENEVA — A new study by the World Health Organization is predicting a dramatic increase in the number of road traffic deaths worldwide unless "urgent action is taken."

Road traffic injuries are the eighth leading cause of death globally and the leading cause of death for young people aged 15-29, the study said. The study says the impact of road deaths is similar to that caused by many communicable diseases, including malaria.

"Current trends suggest that by 2030, road traffic deaths will become the fifth leading cause of death unless urgent action is taken," the study said.

The organization said that the number of road traffic deaths "remains unacceptably high at 1.24 million per year."

"Only 28 countries, representing 449 million people (7 percent of the world's population), have adequate laws that address all five risk factors: speed, drinking and driving, helmets, seatbelts and child restraints," the study said.

Experts say there are more than 1 billion vehicles on the road today.

"The globe is accelerating toward a second billion, with South and East Asia leading the way and Russia, Eastern Europe and South America following along," according to the book Two Billion Cars: Driving Toward Sustainability.

The report also issued a strong warning to governments to address the needs of pedestrians and cyclists.

"Twenty-seven percent of all road traffic deaths occur among pedestrians and cyclists," the report said. "In low- and middle-income countries, this figure is closer to a third of all road deaths, but in some countries is more than 75 percent. As the world continues to motorize, walking and cycling need to be made safe and promoted as healthy and less-expensive mobility options."

Edmunds says: The downside of putting the world on wheels is a rise in traffic deaths — something that clearly needs to be addressed.

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