What Can be Done About the Global Scourge of Road Deaths?

1.2 million people are killed by road collisions every year, says a new report from the World Health Organization. Across the world, it's the leading cause of death for 15- to 29-year-olds. Nick Mead discusses the report's chilling findings.

"More than 1.2 million people are killed on the road every year – and more than 20 million are injured, according to a World Health Organisation report published on Thursday."

"The WHO's Global Status Report on Road Safety 2013 found that 27% of global traffic deaths are among pedestrians and cyclists – vulnerable road users who have been neglected in transport and planning policies," notes Mead. "In low- and middle-income countries the figure is closer to 33%; in some, it is as high as 75%."

"Margaret Chan, director general of the WHO, said the number of road deaths was 'unacceptably high', while injuries 'take an enormous toll on individuals and communities as well as on national economies'. Low-income families are hardest hit by medical costs and lost wages," adds Mead.

So, as car use continues to rise (particularly in the developing world), what can be done to head off this growing public health crisis?

"The report says the first step to reducing traffic mortality is a group of laws aimed at drinking and driving, speeding, and failing to use motorcycle helmets, seat-belts, and child restraints," writes Kate Hinds in Transportation Nation. "Currently, only 28 percent of countries — covering 7 percent of the world’s population — have laws addressing all of these factors."

Full Story: Life and death on the world's most dangerous roads – interactive

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