WHO urges action to reduce the more than 900 deaths a day on roads in the Western Pacific Region

News release

More than 900 people are killed each day on roads in the Western Pacific Region, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates in its latest global report on road safety.

The United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011–2020 sets a global target of saving 5 million lives. The Global status report on road safety 2013: supporting a decade of action emphasizes that the 37 countries and areas of the WHO Western Pacific Region must make road safety a higher priority to meet that target.

Nearly 337 000 people died on the Region's roads in 2010, the last year for which comparable data are available. This is a 2.4% increase in casualties since 2007 for the Region as a whole.

Individually, 14 countries reduced road deaths while they increased in 10 countries. “We must do better," says Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific. "Road safety is about more than health. It is also about economic development. Road injuries cost our Region up to 3.5% of its gross domestic product.”

“Of those killed, 95% are from the low- and middle-income countries that can least afford such losses,” he explains. “People in these countries are two-and-a-half times more likely to be killed on a road than those in high-income countries, highlighting inequitable access to safe road systems in our Region."

Only one country in the Region—Australia—is among the 28 globally reporting comprehensive laws to control the five main risk factors for road traffic injuries: drinking and driving; speeding; distracted driving; failing to use motorcycle helmets; and proper use of seatbelts and child restraints.

“All other countries in the Region require further action to bring road safety laws in line with WHO best-practice recommendations.” Dr Shin says.

Economic development within the Western Pacific Region has resulted in rapid motorization. In 2010, there were more than 400 million registered vehicles, a 25% increase in all vehicles in the Region since 2007. Forty percent of all registered vehicles in the Region are motorcycles. This increased traffic places road users at ever greater risk of trauma. Of road casualties, 36% are motorcyclists; 25% are pedestrians and 8% are cyclists.

The global report is the second in a periodic series analyzing countries’ implementation of effective road safety measures. In addition to the five risk factors, the report highlights the importance of issues such as vehicle safety standards, road infrastructure inspections, policies on walking and cycling, and aspects of pre-hospital care systems. The report also spells out whether countries have a national strategy with measurable targets to reduce casualties and injuries on the roads. Information from 25 countries of the Western Pacific Region that account for nearly 99% of the Region’s population of nearly 1.8 billion is included in the report.

“The unanimous decision of the United Nations General Assembly to establish the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011–2020 was a major step forward for global and regional road safety,” Dr Shin says. “The data in the report give us the information we need to measure progress and to advocate for the political will we need to achieve the ambitious objectives of the Decade of Action for Road Safety.”

For more information, please contact:

Mr Jonathon Passmore
Technical Officer, Violence and Injury Prevention
Telephone: +632 528 9856
Mobile: +63 908 894 5541
E-mail: passmorej@wpro.who.int

Mr Timothy O'Leary
Public Information Officer
Telephone: +632 528 9992
Mobile: +63 999 889 3974
E-mail: olearyt@wpro.who.int