1.3m People Die From Road Accident yearly, Globally– WHO report
While road traffic injuries are now the leading cause of death among children and young adults aged 5–29, latest statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed that no fewer than 1.35 million people die on the roads each year.
The 2018 Global Status on Road Safety revealed that increases in average speed, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and inadequate post-crash care, are among various factors making traffic injuries the number one killer of persons aged five to 29.
Additionally, of the total number of road traffic deaths, 90 per cent occurs in low and middle-income countries, the statistics revealed.
Dr Etienne Krug, Director of the WHO department that deals with violence and Injury prevention said, “What’s killing our young children and adults, is road traffic crashes now.”
“It’s important to notice this is a real issue of inequalities,” Krug said.
He cited that only one per cent of the vehicles in the world are in poorer countries, and yet 13 per cent of all vehicle-related deaths occur there.
High-income nations account for 40 per cent of the world’s cars, and only seven percent of total traffic fatalities, he said.
Krug explained that dramatic increases in fatalities for many low- and middle-income countries were in part reflective of their rapid development, associated with “new roads, new cars, new drivers”.
Krug said 22 countries have improved their legislation since 2015, and several have taken measures to improve trauma care services, and infrastructure, signaling moves toward progress, adding “we just need to see more of them”.
“What we need to see is real high-level political will to take on the problem; we know what needs to be done, that’s not the issue, we just need to do it,” he added.
No low-income country has demonstrated a reduction in overall deaths, compared to previous data from 2015, the report stated.
It added that 48 middle and high-income countries in Europe, the Americas and Western Pacific, have reported road traffic death declines, largely attributed to improved legislation around speed limits, intoxicated driving and seat-belt safety, among others.
The tried and true method of mitigating the situation via policy changes has worked for richer nations, but poorer countries are not keeping up when it comes to positive changes, the WHO report said.
Director-General, WHO, Tedros Gebreyesus, said that “these deaths are an unacceptable price to pay for mobility”, calling inaction inexcusable.
“This is a problem with proven solutions. This report is a call for governments and partners to take much greater action to implement these measures,” he urged.
WHO has contributed to the reduction of road tragedies through its collaboration with the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS).
BIGRS prioritised high-risk countries in intervention through building sustainable transportation alternatives, safer roads, monitoring vehicle standards, and policy strengthening.
In 2017, the health organisation released evidence-based measures – Save LIVES – to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries.
Save LIVES, a road safety technical package, recommends strategies to address risk factors and guides Member-States in reaching the target of halving the global road injuries and deaths by 2020. (NAN)