Road traffic injuries - leading killer of people aged 5–29 years | Daily News
World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims falls tomorrow

Road traffic injuries - leading killer of people aged 5–29 years

The Global status report on road safety, launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) in December 2018, highlights that the number of annual road traffic deaths has reached 1.35 million. Road traffic injuries are now the leading killer of people aged 5 – 29 years. The burden is disproportionately borne by pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, in particular those living in developing countries.

The report also indicates that progress to realize Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 3.6 – which calls for a 50 percent reduction in the number of road traffic deaths by 2020 – remains far from sufficient.

More than half of all road traffic deaths are among vulnerable road users: pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. Pedestrians, cyclists, and riders of motorized two- and three-wheelers and their passengers are collectively known as “vulnerable road users” and account for half of all road traffic deaths around the world. A higher proportion of vulnerable road users die in low-income countries than in high-income countries.

Road traffic injuries cause considerable economic losses to individuals, their families, and to nations as a whole. These losses arise from the cost of treatment as well as lost productivity for those killed or disabled by their injuries, and for family members who need to take time off work or school to care for the injured. Road traffic crashes cost most countries three percent of their gross domestic product.

Origins and significance of the Day

Since the adoption of World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, pursuant to General Assembly resolution 60/5, the observance has spread to a growing number of countries on every continent.

The Day has become an important tool in global efforts to reduce road casualties. It offers an opportunity for drawing attention to the scale of emotional and economic devastation caused by road crashes and for giving recognition to the suffering of road crash victims and the work of support and rescue services.

A dedicated website was launched to make the Day more widely known and to link countries through sharing common objectives and the remembrance of people killed and injured in crashes.

The Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011–2020, officially proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in March 2010, seeks to save millions of lives by building road safety management capacity; improving the safety of road infrastructure; further developing the safety of vehicles; enhancing the behaviour of road users; and improving post-crash response.

Also, to highlight the plight of children on the world’s roads and generate action to better ensure their safety, the UN organizes the Global Road Safety Week.

Remember. Support. Act.

The objectives of World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims 2020 are to provide a platform for road traffic victims and their families to:

• remember all people killed and seriously injured on roads;

• acknowledge the crucial work of emergency services;

• draw attention to the generally trivial legal response to culpable road deaths and injuries;

• advocate for better support for road traffic victims and victim families; and

• promote evidence-based actions to prevent and eventually stop further road traffic deaths and injuries.

As progress is made in the prevention and control of infectious diseases, the relative contribution of deaths from non-communicable diseases and injuries has increased. Road traffic injuries are the eighth leading cause of death for all age groups. More people now die as a result of road traffic injuries than from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis or diarrhoeal diseases. Road traffic injuries are currently the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5 – 29 years, signalling a need for a shift in the current child and adolescent health agenda which, to date, has largely neglected road safety.

A number of countries have seen success in reducing road traffic deaths over the last few years, but progress varies significantly between different regions and countries of the world. There continues to be a strong association between the risk of a road traffic death and the income level of countries. With an average rate of 27.5 deaths per 100,000 population, the risk of a road traffic death is more than three times higher in low-income countries than in high-income countries where the average rate is 8.3 deaths per 100,000 population.

The variation in rates of death observed across regions and countries also corresponds with differences in the types of road users most affected. Vulnerable road users – pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists – represent more than half of all global deaths. Pedestrians and cyclists represent 26 percent of all deaths, while those using motorized two- and three-wheelers comprise another 28 percent. Car occupants make up 29 percent of all deaths and the remaining 17 percent are unidentified road users.

Africa has the highest proportion of pedestrian and cyclist mortalities with 44 percent of deaths. In South-East Asia and the Western Pacific, the majority of deaths are among riders of motorized two- and three-wheelers, who represent 43 percent and 36 percent of all deaths respectively. Enacting and enforcing legislation on key behavioural risk factors including speed, drink-driving and failing to use motorcycle helmets, seat-belts and child restraints are critical components of an integrated strategy to prevent road traffic deaths.

Currently, 123 countries, representing nearly six billion people, have laws that meet best practice for at least one of the five key behavioural risk factors. Since 2014, 22 additional countries have amended their laws on one or more key risk factors to bring them in line with best practice, covering a potential additional one billion people. The speed at which a vehicle travels directly influences the risk of a crash as well as the severity of injuries, and the likelihood of death resulting from that crash. Effective speed management is, as such, central to most road safety intervention strategies. Setting national speed limits is an important step in reducing speed.

Maximum urban speed limits should be lower than or equal to 50 km/h, in line with best practice. In addition, local authorities should have the legislative power to reduce speed limits further, allowing them to take into account local circumstances such as the presence of schools or high concentrations of vulnerable road users. The results show that only 46 countries have laws that meet the best practice criteria for speed. The motto to remember is “Speed Kills”. (United Nations)