1.35 million now die on dangerous roads – new WHO Report

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Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Dr Etienne Krug launch the World Health Organization's Global status report on road safety.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Dr Etienne Krug launch the World Health Organization's Global status report on road safety.

The death toll on the world’s roads has risen to 1.35 million each year, according to the World Health Organization’s latest Global Status Report on Road Safety.

The report updates the last comprehensive global report on road deaths in 2015, and shows that road traffic injuries are now the leading cause of death for children over the age of five. Concerningly, WHO found that not one low income country had managed to reduce deaths in the three years since the last report. Some limited progress has been made, it noted: the death rate has remained relatively stable, even though motorisation and population have increased. It also noted countries had been making progress, albeit in limited areas of road safety, citing work by FIA Foundation partners, iRAP and Global NCAP.

The report echoed the Foundation’s call to recognise road deaths as a child and adolescent health epidemic, and supported a reshaping of the global child health agenda to tackle the crisis on our roads.

Responding to the report’s findings, Lord Robertson, Chairman of the FIA Foundation, said: “Children, adolescents and the world’s poor are at the forefront of this man-made epidemic. The solutions are available, and with road safety as a priority within the SDGs there is no excuse for inaction. Governments and the international community must step-up the response.

“We need a significant increase in support through the new UN Road Safety Trust Fund matched by political commitment to drive down road traffic deaths and injuries worldwide. And we need a focus on protecting the poor and the vulnerable who are too often the victims.”

Zoleka Mandela, Global Ambassador of the Child Health Initiative, added: “My daughter, Zenani Mandela, was a victim of this terrible man-made epidemic and in the years following her death the number of road traffic fatalities and injuries worldwide has actually risen.

“We must get on top of this public health crisis. There have been some examples of progress and we have the solutions. But as highlighted by the WHO in its Global Status Report too many countries are failing to put life saving measures in place. Young people are at the forefront of this crisis and we owe it to the next generation to take action now and save lives.”

Read the report here