Geneva–A new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates road traffic deaths continue to rise, with an annual 1.35 million fatalities. The WHO Global status report on road safety 2018 highlights that road traffic injuries are now the leading killer of children and young people aged 5-29 years.
The WHO Global status report on road safety 2018 documents that despite an increase in the overall number of deaths, the rates of death relative to the size of the world population have stabilized in recent years. This suggests that existing road safety efforts in some middle- and high-income countries have mitigated the situation.
In the settings where progress has been made, it is largely attributed to better legislation around key risks such as speeding, drinking and driving, and failing to use seat-belts, motorcycle helmets and child restraints; safer infrastructure like sidewalks and dedicated lanes for cyclists and motorcyclists; improved vehicle standards such as those that mandate electronic stability control and advanced braking; and enhanced post-crash care.
The report documents that these measures have contributed to reductions in road traffic deaths in 48 middle- and high-income countries. However, not a single low-income country has demonstrated a reduction in overall deaths, in large part because these measures are lacking.
In fact, the risk of a road traffic death remains three times higher in low-income countries than in high-income countries. The rates are highest in Africa (26.6 per 100 000 population) and lowest in Europe (9.3 per 100 000 population). On the other hand, since the previous edition of the report, three regions of the world have reported a decline in road traffic death rates: Americas, Europe and the Western Pacific.
Variations in road traffic deaths are also reflected by type of road user. Globally, pedestrians and cyclists account for 26% of all road traffic deaths, with that figure as high as 44% in Africa and 36% in the Eastern Mediterranean. Motorcycle riders and passengers account for 28% of all road traffic deaths, but the proportion is higher in some regions, e.g. 43% in South-East Asia and 36% in the Western Pacific.
WHO’s global status reports on road safety are released every two to three years, and serve as the key monitoring tool for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020.