Journal Highlights New Research on Global Road Safety

The World Health Organization predicts that by 2030, road traffic injuries will have become the fifth leading cause of death worldwide.

More than 1.2 million people die in road traffic crashes each year. An additional 20 to 50 million are injured or permanently disabled. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that by 2030, road traffic injuries (RTIs) will have become the fifth leading cause of death worldwide (up from its current ninth position). Moreover, in low- and middle-income countries, the rate of RTIs is twice as high as in developed nations. The economic losses associated with road traffic deaths for low- and middle-income countries are an estimated $100 billion every year.

Projections also show that RTIs will be one of the three leading contributors to the global burden of disease as measured by disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost over the next two decades.

On April 18, as part of the effort to draw attention to the growing burden of road traffic injuries, the Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit (JH-IIRU) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has launched Public Health Burden of Road Traffic Injuries: An Assessment from Ten Low- and Middle-Income Countries, a special issue of Traffic Injury Prevention.

Led by Adnan A. Hyder, M.D., Ph.D., MPH, JH-IIRU in 2010 joined a consortium of six partners, including the World Health Organization, the Global Road Safety Partnership, the Association for Safe International Road Travel, EMBARQ, and the World Bank. The project focuses on 10 countries that account for almost half (48 percent) of all traffic deaths globally: Brazil, Cambodia, China, Egypt, India, Kenya, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, and Vietnam. RS-10's primary goal is to reduce deaths and serious injuries in these countries by focusing on preventive and care interventions; identifying high-performing, experienced partners for implementation; and rigorously evaluating outcomes.

A relatively standardized approach is being proposed for all RS-10 countries. At the national level, a high-level working group of stakeholders has been created, a joint national work plan has been developed, and two or more focused intervention sites (i.e., cities, districts, or regions) have been identified in each country. Each site has been encouraged to focus on at least two of four potential risk factors (i.e., drunk driving, excessive speed, lack of seat belt and child restraint use, and lack of helmet use), and an evidence-based and nationally relevant set of interventions that address the chosen risk factors will be implemented in each site. Interventions range from infrastructure improvement to enforcement. All relevant sectors—health, transport, police, and law—are being involved as needed and encouraged to participate at the country and site levels.

The publication, which includes 11 scientific papers jointly authored with 50 colleagues from JH-IIRU and its in-country collaborators, as well as the WHO, highlights new and aggregate data collected and analyzed in the 10 participating countries during the first two years of the RS-10 project. The papers range from investigating the rising trend of pedestrian and motorcycle passenger mortality in Brazil to examining the projected economic impact of the RS-10 project to reviewing national data sources of road traffic injuries in China.

To access the special issue, visit the Traffic Injury Prevention website at

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