According to the World Health Organisation’s Global status report on road safety 2015, about 1.25 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes, despite improvement in road safety.
Director-General of WHO, Dr Margaret Chan, said
“Road traffic fatalities take an unacceptable toll, particularly on poor people in poor countries. However, the number of deaths from road accidents is stabilising even though the number of vehicles worldwide has increased rapidly, also the global population.
“In the last three years, 79 countries have seen a decrease in the number of fatalities, while 68 countries witnessed an increase. Countries that have had the most success in reducing the number of deaths achieved this by improving legislation, enforcement and making roads and vehicles safer.
“We are moving in the right direction. The report shows that road safety strategies are saving lives. But it also tells us that the pace of change is too slow,” Chan explained.
The WHO report highlights that road users around the world are unequally protected. The risk of dying in a road traffic crash still depends, to a great extent, on where people live and how they move around.
“A big gap still separates high-income countries from low and middle-income ones where 90 percent of road crashes occur in spite of having just 54 percent of the world’s vehicles. Europe, in particular, has the lowest death rates per capita; Africa has the highest.
‘‘There are more counties acting on roads safety though further action is required, but more counties are taking action to make roads safer. In the last three years, 17 countries have aligned at least one of their laws with best practices on seat-belts, drink–driving, speed, motorcycle helmet or child restraints.’’
Founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, said “Thanks to stronger laws and smarter infrastructure, nearly half a billion people in the world are better protected from road crashes than they were just a few years ago and we have the opportunity to do much more, especially when it comes to enforcing laws.
“Every life lost in a road crash is an avoidable tragedy and this report can prevent more of them by helping policy-makers focus their efforts where they will make the biggest difference,“ the report added.
The report also revealed that globally, 105 countries have good seat-belt laws that apply to all occupants;
47 countries have good speed laws defining a national urban maximum speed limit of 50 km/h and empowering local authorities to further reduce speed limits.
According to the report, 34 countries have a good drink–driving law with a blood alcohol concentration limit of less than or equal to 0.05 g/dl, as well as lower limits of less than or equal to 0.02 g/dl for young and novice drivers; 44 countries have helmet laws that apply to all drivers, passengers, roads and engine types; require the helmet to be fastened and refer to a particular helmet standard; 53 countries have a child restraint law for occupants of vehicles based on age, height or weight, and apply an age or height restriction on children sitting in the front seat.
It explained that to protect vulnerable road users to improve safety, more attention is required.
“Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable, making up 23 percent of all deaths resulting from road accidents. In many regions, this problem is increasing, In America, for example, the proportion of motorcycle deaths out of all road traffic fatalities rose from 15 percent to 20 percent between 2010 and 2013. In South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions, a third of all deaths are among motorcyclists.
“Pedestrians and cyclists are also among the groups with the least protection, making up 22 percent and four percent of global deaths respectively,“ it added.
According to the Director of WHO’s Department for Management of Non-communicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention, Dr Etienne Krug,
“Decision-makers need to rethink transport policies. Improving public transport, as well as making walking and cycling safer requires us to refocus on how vehicles and people share the road. Lack of policies aimed at vulnerable road users is killing people and harming our cities. If we make walking and cycling safer there will be fewer deaths, more physical activity, better air quality, and more pleasant cities.”
The report also discovered that some vehicles sold in 80 percent of all countries worldwide fail to meet basic safety standards, particularly in low-and middle-income countries where nearly 50 percent of the 67 million new passenger cars were produced in 2014.
The Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015, the third in its series, is the official monitoring tool of the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011- 2020.

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