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Road traffic injuries
Updated May two thousand seventeen
- About 1.25 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes.
- Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among people aged inbetween fifteen and twenty nine years.
- 90% of the world’s fatalities on the roads occur in low- and middle-income countries, even tho’ these countries have approximately 54% of the world’s vehicles.
- Almost half of those dying on the world’s roads are “vulnerable road users”: pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.
- Road traffic crashes cost most countries 3% of their gross domestic product.
- Without sustained activity, road traffic crashes are predicted to become the seventh leading cause of death by 2030.
- The freshly adopted two thousand thirty Agenda for Sustainable Development has set an ambitious target of halving the global number of deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes by 2020.
Every year the lives of approximately 1.25 million people are cut brief as a result of a road traffic crash. Inbetween twenty and fifty million more people suffer non-fatal injuries, with many incurring a disability as a result of their injury.
Road traffic injuries cause considerable economic losses to individuals, their families, and to nations as a entire. These losses arise from the cost of treatment as well as lost productivity for those killed or disabled by their injuries, and for family members who need to take time off work or school to care for the injured. Road traffic crashes cost most countries 3% of their gross domestic product.
Who is at risk?
More than 90% of road traffic deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Road traffic injury death rates are highest in the African region. Even within high-income countries, people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to be involved in road traffic crashes.
People aged inbetween fifteen and forty four years account for 48% of global road traffic deaths.
From a youthful age, masculines are more likely to be involved in road traffic crashes than females. About three quarters (73%) of all road traffic deaths occur among youthfull masculines under the age of twenty five years who are almost three times as likely to be killed in a road traffic crash as youthful females.
The Safe System treatment: accommodating human error
The Safe System treatment to road safety aims to ensure a safe transport system for all road users. Such an treatment takes into account people’s vulnerability to serious injuries in road traffic crashes and recognizes that the system should be designed to be forgiving of human error. The cornerstones of this treatment are safe roads and roadsides, safe speeds, safe vehicles, and safe road users, all of which must be addressed in order to eliminate fatal crashes and reduce serious injuries.
- An increase in average speed is directly related both to the likelihood of a crash occurring and to the severity of the consequences of the crash. For example, an increase of one km/h in mean vehicle speed results in an increase of 3% in the incidence of crashes resulting in injury and an increase of 4–5% in the incidence of fatal crashes.
- An adult pedestrian’s risk of dying is less than 20% if struck by a car at fifty km/h and almost 60% if hit at eighty km/h.
Driving under the influence of alcohol and other psychoactive substances
- Driving under the influence of alcohol and any psychoactive substance or drug increases the risk of a crash that results in death or serious injuries.
- In the case of drink-driving, the risk of a road traffic crash starts at low levels of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and increases significantly when the driver’s BAC is ≥ 0.04 g/dl.
- In the case of drug-driving, the risk of incurring a road traffic crash is enlargened to differing degrees depending on the psychoactive drug used. For example, the risk of a fatal crash occurring among those who have used amphetamines is about five times the risk of someone who hasn’t.
Nonuse of motorcycle helmets, seat-belts, and child restraints
- Wearing a motorcycle helmet correctly can reduce the risk of death by almost 40% and the risk of severe injury by over 70%.
- Wearing a seat-belt reduces the risk of a fatality among front-seat passengers by 40–50% and of rear-seat passengers by inbetween 25–75%.
- If correctly installed and used, child restraints reduce deaths among infants by approximately 70% and deaths among puny children by inbetween 54% and 80%.
There are many types of distractions that can lead to impaired driving. The distraction caused by mobile phones is a growing concern for road safety.
- Drivers using mobile phones are approximately four times more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers not using a mobile phone. Using a phone while driving slows reaction times (notably braking reaction time, but also reaction to traffic signals), and makes it difficult to keep in the correct lane, and to keep the correct following distances.
- Hands-free phones are not much safer than hand-held phone sets, and texting considerably increases the risk of a crash.
Unsafe road infrastructure
The design of roads can have a considerable influence on their safety. Ideally, roads should be designed keeping in mind the safety of all road users. This would mean making sure that there are adequate facilities for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. Measures such as footpaths, cycling lanes, safe crossing points, and other traffic calming measures can be critical to reducing the risk of injury among these road users.
Safe vehicles play a critical role in averting crashes and reducing the likelihood of serious injury. There are a number of UN regulations on vehicle safety that, if applied to countries’ manufacturing and production standards, would potentially save many lives. These include requiring vehicle manufacturers to meet front and side influence regulations, to include electronic stability control (to prevent over-steering) and to ensure airbags and seat-belts are fitted in all vehicles. Without these basic standards the risk of traffic injuries – both to those in the vehicle and those out of it – is considerably enhanced.
Inadequate post-crash care
Delays in detecting and providing care for those involved in a road traffic crash increase the severity of injuries. Care of injuries after a crash has occurred is utterly time-sensitive: delays of minutes can make the difference inbetween life and death.
Inadequate law enforcement of traffic laws
If traffic laws on drink-driving, seat-belt wearing, speed boundaries, helmets, and child restraints are not enforced, they cannot bring about the expected reduction in road traffic fatalities and injuries related to specific behaviours. Thus, if traffic laws are not enforced or are perceived as not being enforced it is likely they will not be complied with and therefore will have very little chance of influencing behaviour.
Effective enforcement includes establishing, regularly updating, and enforcing laws at the national, municipal, and local levels that address the above mentioned risk factors. It includes also the definition of adequate penalties.
What can be done to address road traffic injuries
Road traffic injuries can be prevented. Governments need to take act to address road safety in a holistic manner. This requires involvement from numerous sectors such as transport, police, health, education, and deeds that address the safety of roads, vehicles, and road users.
Effective interventions include designing safer infrastructure and incorporating road safety features into land-use and transport planning, improving the safety features of vehicles, improving post-crash care for victims of road crashes, setting and enforcing laws relating to key risks, and raising public awareness.
Providing technical support to countries
WHO works across the spectrum in countries, in a multisectoral manner and in partnership with national and international stakeholders from a multiplicity of sectors. Its objective is to support Member States in road safety policy planning and implementation.
In addition, WHO collaborates with playmates to provide technical support to countries. For example, WHO is presently collaborating with the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS) 2015-2019 to reduce fatalities and injuries from road traffic crashes in targeted low- and middle-income countries and cities.
In 2017, WHO released Save LIVES a road safety technical package which synthesizes evidence-based measures that can significantly reduce road traffic fatalities and injuries. Save LIVES: a road safety technical package concentrates on Surinated management, Leadership, Infrastructure design and improvement, Vehicle safety standards, Enforcement of traffic laws and post-crash Survival.
The package prioritizes six strategies and twenty two interventions addressing the risk factors highlighted above, and provides guidance to Member States on their implementation to save lives and meet the road safety target of halving the global number of deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes by 2020.
Coordinating the Decade of Act for Road Safety
WHO is the lead agency – in collaboration with the United Nations regional commissions – for road safety within the UN system. WHO chairs the United Nations Road Safety Collaboration and serves as the secretariat for the Decade of Act for Road Safety 2011– 2020. Proclaimed through a UN General Assembly resolution in 2010, the Decade of Activity was launched in May two thousand eleven in over one hundred ten countries, with the aim of saving millions of lives by implementing the Global Plan for the Decade of Acton.
WHO also plays a key role in guiding global efforts by continuing to advocate for road safety at the highest political levels; compiling and disseminating good practices in prevention, data collection and trauma care; sharing information with the public on risks and how to reduce these risks; and drawing attention to the need for enlargened funding.
Monitoring progress through global status reports
WHO’s Global status report on road safety 2015 presents information on road safety from one hundred eighty countries. This report is the third in a series and provides an overview of the road safety situation globally. The global status reports are the official implement for monitoring the Decade of Activity.