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.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Pedestrian Safety: The National Picture

|
Whose light is it, anyway? A recent story in USA Today talked about the growing national movement for pedestrian and bicyclist safety. The piece included a table that showed the number of pedestrians killed state by state in 2005 (Florida, with 3.24 deaths per 100,000 population, was the worst for pedestrians, while New Hampshire was […]

StreetFilms: “Something Has to Be Done”

|
Emergency Pedestrian Safety RallyRunning time: 4 minutes 38 seconds  Here are some highlights from Sunday’s rally for pedestrian safety. In the words of Audrey Anderson, whose 14-year-old son, Andre, was killed by an SUV while he was riding his bike: "Drivers who kill and are not apparently drunk walk away from crash sites as free […]