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WHO launches second global status report on road safety
  1. Tami Toroyan,
  2. Margie M Peden,
  3. Kacem Iaych
  1. Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Margie M Peden, Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability, World Health Organization, 20 Avenue Appia, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland; pedenm{at}who.int

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Readers of Injury Prevention will be aware that the WHO launched the first ever report on the state of global road safety in 2009.1 At that time, a total of 178 countries took part in the survey, which revealed that approximately 1.23 million people in these countries died as a result of road traffic crashes in 2007. The first Global Status Report on Road Safety was very useful in raising awareness and generating action at national and international levels. It provided valuable information about how far countries had come since the publication of the World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention but also called for more action.2 The status report was recognised in UN General Assembly resolution A/64/255 which called for a Decade of Action (2011–2020) and invited WHO to continue producing regular status reports in order to monitor progress towards attaining the goals of the Decade.3

On 14 March 2013, WHO launched the Global Status Report on Road Safety—2013: Supporting a Decade of Action.4 Like the first report, a consensus methodology was employed to obtain information about a variety of road safety indicators from a multisectoral group of experts in countries. Data were received from 182 countries.

Comparative road traffic death estimates revealed that 1.24 million people died from road traffic crashes in 2010. This plateau since 2007 should be viewed in the context of a corresponding 15% increase in the number of registered vehicles, suggesting that interventions that have been put into place in countries have managed to halt the expected rise that occurs with motorisation.

Middle-income countries continue to be particularly hard hit with death rates around 20.1 per 100 000 population while low-income and high-income countries have death rates of 18.3 and 8.7, respectively (see table 1). The risk of dying in a road traffic crash is highest in the African region and lowest in the European region, although there are significant disparities between countries in Europe. There are discrepancies around where people die, and also who dies. In Africa, 38% of deaths are among pedestrians while in the Western Pacific region, 36% of deaths are among motorcyclists—shadowing the preferred mobility options in these two regions. Focusing the Second UN Global Road Safety Week (6–12 May 2013) on pedestrian safety later this year will help to raise awareness of these disparities.5

Table 1

Road traffic death rates per 100 000 population by WHO region and income level

Mixed progress has been made in countries in terms of reducing the number of road traffic deaths and implementing good practice. A total of 88 countries, accounting for some 1.6 billion people, have managed to reduce their road traffic deaths but 87 countries have seen increases. In all, 35 countries, representing about 10% of the world's population, are newly covered by comprehensive laws that address one or more key risk factors. Unfortunately, only 7% of the world's population are currently covered by comprehensive laws on all five key risk factors. The report encourages governments to urgently pass comprehensive laws and invest sufficient financial and human resources in the enforcement of such laws.

Less progress has been made among countries with regard to addressing the needs of non-motorised road users. A total of 50% of those who die are pedestrians (22%), cyclists (5%) or motorcyclists (23%) with significant regional differences apparent. However, only 68 countries have national or subnational policies that promote walking and cycling and just 78 countries protect vulnerable road users by separating them from other motorised, high-speed, traffic. The report thus issues a strong warning that unless these ‘more vulnerable’ groups of road users are taken into consideration by making alternative methods of transportation (including walking and cycling) safer, the ambitious goals of the Decade of Action will be difficult to attain. To read more, or obtain your own copy of the report, please go to http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/road_safety_status/en/index.html.

Acknowledgments

TT coordinated and wrote the report, with data management and statistical analysis conducted by KI; MMP provided strategic and technical oversight; data collection was facilitated by WHO Representatives and staff at country level; at regional level, trainings, data collection and validation were carried out by: Martial Missimikim and Martin Ekeke Monono (Africa); Astrid Arca, Alessandra Senisse Pajares and Eugênia Rodrigues (the Americas); Hala Youssef, Rania Saad and Hala Sakr (Eastern Mediterranean); Francesco Mitis and Dinesh Sethi (Europe); Rania Saad and Chamaiparn Santikarn (South East Asia); and Krishnan Rajam, Mayet Darang and Xiangdong Wang (Western Pacific). Other WHO staff who contributed to the development and production of the report include Ala Alwan, Nicholas Banatvala, Oleg Chestnov, Manjul Joshipura, Doris Ma Fat, Evelyn Murphy, Etienne Krug, Jon Passmore, Pascale Lanvers-Casasola, Colin Mathers, Florence Rusciano and Jelica Vesic.

References

Footnotes

  • Funding This project is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

  • Disclaimer TT, MMP and KI are staff members of the WHO. They alone are responsible for the views expressed in this publication and they do not necessarily represent the decisions or policies of the WHO.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.