World Health Organisation publish global road safety status report

Only 28 countries, covering 7% of the world’s population, have comprehensive road safety laws on all five key risk factors: drinking and driving, speeding, and failing to use motorcycle helmets, seat-belts, and child restraints.

The pace of legislative change needs to rapidly accelerate if the number of deaths from road traffic crashes is to be substantially reduced, according to the Global status report on road safety 2013: supporting a decade of action, published today by WHO.

The pace of legislative change needs to rapidly accelerate if the number of deaths from road traffic crashes is to be substantially reduced, according to the Global status report on road safety 2013: supporting a decade of action, published today by WHO.

In 2010, there were 1.24 million deaths worldwide from road traffic crashes, roughly the same number as in 2007. The report shows that while 88 Member States were able to reduce the number of road traffic fatalities, that number increased in 87 countries.

Legislative change key to reducing fatalities

Key to reducing road traffic mortality will be ensuring that as many Member States as possible have in place laws covering the five key risk factors listed above. The report highlights that:

59 countries covering 39% of the world’s population, have implemented an urban speed limit of 50 km/h or less and allow local authorities to further reduce these limits;

89 countries covering 66% of the world’s population, have a comprehensive drink-driving law, defined as a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit of 0.05 g/dl or less;

90 countries, covering 77% of the world’s population, have motorcycle helmet laws which cover all riders on all roads with all engine types and have a motorcycle helmet standard;

111 countries covering 69% of the world’s population, have comprehensive seat-belt laws covering all occupants; and

96 countries covering 32% of the world’s population, have a law requiring child restraints.

The report also highlights that most countries – even some of the best performing in terms of the safety of their roads – indicate that enforcement of these laws is inadequate.

“Political will is needed at the highest level of government to ensure appropriate road safety legislation and stringent enforcement of laws by which we all need to abide,” says WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan. “If this cannot be ensured, families and communities will continue to grieve, and health systems will continue to bear the brunt of injury and disability due to road traffic crashes.”

“The Global status report on road safety 2013 serves as a strong warning to governments that more needs to be done to protect all those who use the roads,” says Mr Michael R. Bloomberg, philanthropist and Mayor of New York City, whose foundation funded the report. “Road traffic fatalities and injuries are preventable. This report is an important next step in the effort to also keep pedestrians, cyclists and motorists safe on the world’s roads. It demonstrates that progress is being made, but we still have a long way to go.”

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