The World Health Organisation (WHO) have revealed that road traffic accidents are now the eighth leading cause of deaths worldwide, killing 1.35 million people a year.
The numbers of people killed on the roads is steadily increasing each year (200,000 more people were killed in 2016 compared to the year 2000) in and the geographic spread of deaths is not even. Although only 1% of the worlds motor vehicles are in low-income countries, this is where 13% of deaths occur. In comparison, 40% of vehicles are in high income countries where just 7% if all traffic deaths take place.
WHO report states that better legislation has a significant role to play in tackling road traffic deaths and highlights five key risk areas; speeding, drink-driving, use of seatbelts, child restraints and motorcycle helmets. It is a worry then that only five countries in the world have laws which meet the “best practice” standard in all key risk categories.
The majority of good practice legislation is found in more developed countries and the enforcement of the improved safety practices helped lower road traffic deaths in 48 middle and high income countries.
Unfortunately, no low income countries have seen a reduction in overall road traffic deaths. WHO’s data driven report suggests this is largely due to a lack of similar interventions.
Zoleka Mandela, granddaughter of Nelson Mandela and global ambassador for the Child’s Health Initiative, lost her 13 year old daughter in a road traffic accident in Johannesburg in 2010.
“Sometimes we get blinded by statistics and we forget the terrible impact upon people’s lives. My daughter, Zenani, was a victim of this terrible man-made epidemic…. we owe it to the next generation to take action now and save lives.”