Road-traf­fic crashes claim over 1.25 mil­lion peo­ple glob­ally each year: WHO re­port

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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.

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