WHO's 2018 Road Safety Report Shows Increasing Fatalities

Where progress has been made, it is largely attributed to better legislation, safer infrastructure, improved vehicle standards, and enhanced post-crash care.

The World Health Organization has released its Global status report on road safety 2018 this month, concluding in it that road traffic deaths continue to rise worldwide and are killing 1.35 million people annually. The report says road traffic injuries are now the leading killer of children and young people 5-29 years old.

"These deaths are an unacceptable price to pay for mobility," said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "There is no excuse for inaction. This is a problem with proven solutions. This report is a call for governments and partners to take much greater action to implement these measures."

The WHO report says despite an increase in the overall number of deaths, rates of death relative to the size of the world population have stabilized in recent years, which suggests existing road safety efforts in some middle- and high-income countries have mitigated the situation.

The report was funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies. "Road safety is an issue that does not receive anywhere near the attention it deserves – and it really is one of our great opportunities to save lives around the world," said Michael R Bloomberg, founder and CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies and WHO's Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries. "We know which interventions work. Strong policies and enforcement, smart road design, and powerful public awareness campaigns can save millions of lives over the coming decades."

Where progress has been made, it is largely attributed to better legislation around key risks such as speeding, drinking and driving, and failing to use seat belts, motorcycle helmets, and child restraints; safer infrastructure, including dedicated lanes for cyclists and motorcyclists; improved vehicle standards, such as those that mandate electronic stability control and advanced braking; and enhanced post-crash care. But not one low-income country has demonstrated a reduction in overall deaths, mainly because these measures are lacking.

The organization's global status reports on road safety are released every two to three years.

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