Road-traffic crashes claim over 1.25 million people globally each year: WHO report
According to the Global Status Report on Road Safety, 2015, released by World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1.25 million people die each year as a result of road-traffic crashes. Most of these deaths are in low- and middle-income countries where rapid economic growth has been accompanied by increased motorisation and road-traffic injuries.
As per the report, India accounts for more than 2 lakh of those deaths. It should be noted that this is 46 per cent more than what the national statistics released by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in 2014 claim.
The WHO report highlights the important role of safe infrastructure and safe vehicles in reducing road-traffic injuries. Road infrastructure is mainly constructed with the needs of motorists in mind, although the report indicates that 49 per cent of all road-traffic deaths occur among pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. Real, sustained successes at reducing global road traffic deaths will only happen when road design takes into consideration the needs of all road users.
While vehicles in high-income countries are increasingly safe, some vehicles sold in 80 per cent of all countries worldwide fail to meet basic safety standards, particularly in low- and middle-income countries where nearly 50 per cent of the 67 million new passenger cars were produced in 2014. There is data showing that less than half of the countries implement minimum standards on vehicle safety. The report notes that these standards are notably absent in many of the large middle-income countries that are major car manufacturers.
Changing road-user behaviour is a critical component of the holistic ‘ Safe Systems’ approach advocated in this report. Adopting and enforcing good laws is effective in changing road-user behaviour on key risk factors for road traffic injuries – speed, drink-driving, and the failure to use helmets, seat belts and child restraints properly or at all.
“Road-traffic injuries cause considerable economic losses to victims, their families, and to nations as a whole. These losses arise from the cost of treatment (including rehabilitation and incident investigation) as well as reduced/lost productivity (e.g. in wages) for those killed or disabled by their injuries,” the WHO report said.
The report includes data from 180 countries/areas out of a total of 195 WHO member states, covering 6.97 billion people, or 97 per cent of the world’s population. Data on legislation and policies represent the country situation in 2014, while data on fatalities and numbers of vehicles are for 2013, the most recent year for which data were available.