Roads Kill Kids

A new report by Kevin Watkins tries to make visible the horrifying threat to children's health that road traffic presents. It is the leading cause of death globally for young people between the ages of 10 and 24, reports Sarah Goodyear.
May 6, 2012, 5am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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What should be the most pressing issue for those concerned about the welfare of the world's children? Malaria? HIV/AIDS? Access to clean water?

According to the new report "Safe and Sustainable Roads: An Agenda for Rio+20," authored by Kevin Watkins, a non-resident senior research fellow at the Brookings Institute, and published by the Campaign for Global Road Safety, road traffic is the world's silent killer of children. "The sheer scale of the road traffic injury epidemic is not widely recognised. There is a widespread tendency to see that epidemic in terms of isolated and unpredictable events -- as ‘accidents' that befall unlucky individuals. In fact, there is nothing unpredictable about road traffic injuries. And the ‘road accident' vocabulary deflects attention from the systemic nature of the risks that claim so many, many lives," argues the report.

"The economic costs of all these traffic-related fatalities, in terms of lost income, lost educational opportunities, and health care expenditures, are massive. And yet there is no philanthropist stepping in with a huge check to fund prevention of traffic deaths, the way Bill Gates has with malaria, HIV, and tuberculosis. Instead, world financial institutions have pumped billions of dollars into road infrastructure, while dedicating only a tiny fraction of that to road safety," writes Goodyear.

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Published on Thursday, May 3, 2012 in The Atlantic Cities
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