WHO Report Highlights Global Health Risk of Traffic

capt.2680f7db33b94717a19bf178879a0b20.stallworth_pedestrian_killed_football_ny154.jpgPro football player Donte’ Stallworth was sentenced to jail today after killing a pedestrian in an alcohol-related crash. (Photo: AP)

The disparity between the 13 percent of road fatalities suffered by non-drivers and the amount that the federal government spends on their safety — less than 1 percent — may come as a surprise to some Americans. But the situation is far worse in the developing world, according to a new World Health Organization report.

Surveying data on crashes and driving from 178 nations, the WHO found that wealthy nations such as the U.S., U.K. and Germany own more than half of the world’s registered cars but suffer only 8.5 percent of global traffic fatalities.

It is low-income nations, from Vietnam to Ghana to Nepal, that must contend with more than 40 percent of worldwide traffic deaths despite owning less than 10 percent of all registered cars.

The WHO also found that non-drivers bear a significant share of traffic’s health risks. Pedestrians and bike riders of all types account for nearly one-half of the world’s 1.27 million annual deaths on the road.

Only 15 percent of nations, according to the report, have laws that fully address the five risk factors for traffic safety: speed, helmets, child restraints, seat belts and drunk driving.

As the Washington Post noted, the report’s authors (who received funding from New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s philanthropic group) think their conclusions can provide momentum for something resembling a global "complete streets" movement:

Until the current recession, auto sales in some developing countries
were increasing by more than 10 percent a year. The authors hope the
report will help stimulate governments and engineers to design roads
that can accommodate a huge influx of cars but also out-of-car users.

  • “It is low-income nations, from Vietnam to Ghana to Nepal, that must contend with more than 40 percent of worldwide traffic deaths despite owning less than 10 percent of all registered cars.”

    -This is a little misleading. In many countries in the developing world (Viet Nam is a great example) most people get around by motorbike, which can be just as deadly as a car.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

2010s-MV-Deaths5

America’s Traffic Death Toll Is a National Disgrace

|
More than 40,000 Americans were killed in traffic last year, according to new estimates from the National Safety Council, the worst toll in a decade. The U.S. transportation system claims far more lives each year than peer countries. If America achieved the same fatality rate as the UK, more than 30,000 lives would be saved each year.

America Has a Terrible Traffic Safety Record Because We Drive Too Much

|
Even though the U.S. traffic fatality rate per mile driven has fallen by two-thirds in the last 50 years, America today still has the deadliest road system per capita in the developed world. Much of the improvement from safer driving and better emergency care has been wiped out by increases in total traffic. The American approach to traffic safety has emphasized seatbelt use, vehicle standards, […]

The Inequitable Toll of Pedestrian Deaths

|
A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control found that while 10.5 percent of all trips in the United States are made on foot, pedestrians made up 13 percent of all traffic fatalities between 2001 and 2010. During those years, a staggering 47,392 pedestrians were killed on American roadways. In 2010, the per capita […]