Road ac­ci­dent deaths grow to 1.35 mil­lion each year

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

GENEVA — Road ac­ci­dents kill some­one ev­ery 24 sec­onds, with a to­tal of 1.35 mil­lion traf­fic deaths around the world each year, the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion said on Fri­day, de­mand­ing global ac­tion.

The num­ber of fa­tal­i­ties an­nu­ally has swelled by around 100,000 in just three years, with road ac­ci­dents now the lead­ing killer of chil­dren and young peo­ple be­tween the ages of five and 29, the UN health agency said in a new re­port.

“These deaths are an un­ac­cept­able price to pay for mo­bil­ity,” said WHO chief Te­dros Ad­hanom Ghe­breye­sus.

“There is no ex­cuse for in­ac­tion. This is a prob­lem with proven solutions,” he said.

The WHO’s Global Sta­tus Re­port on Road Safety, based on data from 2016, showed that the sit­u­a­tion is wors­en­ing.

In its pre­vi­ous re­port, based on data from 2013, the num­ber of road traf­fic deaths was es­ti­mated at 1.25 mil­lion an­nu­ally.

But de­spite the in­crease in the over­all num­ber of deaths, the rate of death com­pared to the grow­ing num­ber of peo­ple and cars in the world has sta­bi­lized in re­cent years.

“This sug­gests that ex­ist­ing road safety ef­forts in some mid­dle and high-in­come coun­tries have mit­i­gated the sit­u­a­tion,” WHO said.

This is largely due to bet­ter leg­is­la­tion around key risks, in­clud­ing speed­ing, drink­ing and driv­ing, and fail­ing to use a seat belt, child re­straints or hel­mets, the re­port found.

Safer in­fra­struc­ture like side­walks and ded­i­cated bike lanes and bet­ter ve­hi­cle stan­dards have also paid off.

But while many coun­tries have stepped up ef­forts to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion, many poorer nations are lag­ging way be­hind.

Ac­cord­ing to Fri­day’s re­port, “not a sin­gle low-in­come coun­try has demon­strated a re­duc­tion in over­all deaths”, adding that the risk of a road traf­fic death re­mains three times higher there than in high in­come coun­tries.

The death rate in Africa is par­tic­u­larly high, count­ing 26.6 an­nual traf­fic deaths for ev­ery 100,000 cit­i­zens, com­pared with 9.3 in Europe, where the death rate is the low­est.

The re­port also showed a dev­as­tat­ing dis­re­gard for the most vul­ner­a­ble in traf­fic, with more than half of all those killed in road ac­ci­dents ei­ther walk­ing or on two wheels.

Pedes­tri­ans and cy­clists ac­count for 26 per­cent of all traf­fic deaths, with the fig­ure as high as 44 per­cent in Africa.

Mo­tor­cy­clists and their pas­sen­gers mean­while ac­count for 28 per­cent of all road deaths, but the fig­ure soars to 43 per­cent in South­east Asia, the re­port said.

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