Only 28 Countries' Traffic Laws Cover All Key Risk Factors

And these states have only 7 percent of the world's population, the World Health Organization reported March 14.

Just 28 countries, covering 7 percent of the world's population, have road safety laws that address all five key risk factors: drinking and driving, speeding, and failing to use motorcycle helmets, seat belts, and child restraints, according to the World Health Organization's new "Global Status Report on Road Safety 2013," released March 14.

WHO said he pace of legislative change must rapidly accelerate if the number of deaths from road traffic crashes is to be substantially reduced. "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," WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said. "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."

According to WHO, there were 1.24 million deaths around the world in 2010 from road traffic crashes, roughly the same number as in 2007. The report says 88 WHO member states were able to reduce their road traffic fatalities, but they rose in 87 countries.

The report's highlights:

  • 59 countries have implemented an urban speed limit of 50 km/h or less and allow local authorities to further reduce these limits
  • 89 countries have a comprehensive DUI law, defined as a blood alcohol concentration limit of 0.05 g/dl or less
  • 90 countries have motorcycle helmet laws covering all riders on all roads with all engine types and have a motorcycle helmet standard
  • 111 countries have comprehensive seat belt laws covering all occupants
  • 96 countries have a law requiring child restraints

Enforcement of traffic laws in most countries also is inadequate, according to the report.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s foundation funded the report. Bloomberg said the report "serves as a strong warning to governments that more needs to be done to protect all those who use the roads. 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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