Road safety

Fact sheet
8 May 2011

  • Road traffic injuries are a leading cause of death and disability in the Western Pacific Region.
  • About one quarter of the world's road traffic deaths occur in the Region.
  • About 300 000 deaths occur due to traffic accidents.
  • Millions more suffer from temporary or permanent disability.
  • Road traffic accidents cost some countries up to 4% of their Gross National Product.
  • Road traffic injuries are expected to increase further in the coming decade.

Who are mainly affected?

  • Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death and disability among those 15 to 44 years of age.
  • About 95% of deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries in the Region
  • Vulnerable road users (pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists) account for the majority of deaths, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

Behind the numbers

  • For every person killed, injured or disabled by a road crash, countless others are deeply affec­ted.
  • Many families are driven into poverty by the cost of prolonged medical care, the loss of a family breadwinner or the extra funds needed to care for people with disabilities caused by traffic accidents.
  • Road accidents survivors, and their families, friends and other caregivers often suffer adverse social, physical and psychological effects.

Road traffic injuries are preventable

  • Traffic accidents are predictable and can often be prevented.
  • Making a road traffic system safe requires understanding of the system as a whole and the interaction between its elements, and identifying the potential for intervention.

Role of the health sector

  • systematically collecting data through surveillan­ce and surveys;
  • researching the causes of road traffic crashes and injuries;
  • exploring ways of preventing and reducing the severity of injuries;
  • helping to implement road safety interventions; and
  • working to persuade policy-makers and decision-makers to address the major issue of injuries.

The health sector has an important role to play, particularly in:

Road safety is a multisectoral responsibility

  • Reducing risk in the world’s road traffic systems requires commitment and informed decision-making by govern­ment, industry, nongovernmental organizations and international agencies.
  • Reducing risks also requires participation by people from many different disciplines, such as road engineers, motor vehicle designers, law enfor­cement officers, health professionals and commu­nity groups.

What can be done?

  • Identify a lead agency to push for change,
  • Assess the problem,
  • Prepare a national plan,
  • Allocate adequate resources,
  • Implement specific actions,
  • Develop national capacity, and
  • Cooperate with partners.
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