WHO envisions a world free from road traffic deaths and injuries

In the context of the Fifth UN Global Road Safety Week (6-12 May 2019), thousands of road safety advocates from around the world are highlighting the need for more effective leadership for road safety.

WHO states that strong leaders – both government and nongovernment alike – are those who Speak-Up for road safety and act on the concrete interventions which have proven to save lives.

“WHO’s vision is a world free from road traffic deaths and injuries” notes World Health Organization Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “It’s also a world in which all people benefit from universal health coverage, including trauma care, rehabilitation and psychological support for road traffic victims. This week and every week, play your part in making the roads safe for everyone. A safer road for others is a safer road for you.”

Despite progress, road traffic deaths continue to rise, with an annual 1.35 million fatalities. Road traffic injuries are now the leading killer of children and young people aged 5-29 years. Globally, of all road traffic deaths, pedestrians and cyclists account for 26% and motorcycle riders and passengers account for 28%. The risk of a road traffic death remains three times higher in low-income countries than in high-income countries, with rates highest in Africa (26.6 per 100 000 population) and lowest in Europe (9.3 per 100 000 population).

“Road traffic deaths and injuries are an unacceptable price to pay for mobility,” notes WHO Director, Dr Etienne Krug. “There is no excuse for inaction. This is a problem with proven solutions. Governments and their partners must demonstrate leadership and accelerate action to save lives by implementing what works.”

In the settings where progress has been made, it is because of strong leadership around legislation on key risks such as speeding, drinking and driving, and failing to use seat-belts, motorcycle helmets and child restraints; safer infrastructure like sidewalks and dedicated lanes for cyclists and motorcyclists; improved vehicle standards such as those that mandate electronic stability control and advanced braking; and enhanced post-crash care.

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