According to a recent report by WHO (World Health Organisation), the leading cause of deaths worldwide is road traffic injuries. It is most common amongst young children and adults aged between 5-29 years of age with an annual fatality count of up to 1.35 million.
Across the globe, road accidents claim one life every 23 seconds. India retains the sceptical distinction of reporting the maximum number of road fatalities, according to a report by the Global Status Report on Road Safety.
As reported by WHO (World Health Organisation), global road fatalities have increased to 1.35 million in 2016 as compared to 1.25 million in 2013. To this, WHO adds that one in every nine road fatalities were reported in India.
Data shared by India’s road transport ministry with WHO stated that about 1.51 lakh road fatalities occurred in 2016 but WHO estimates a higher number at nearly 3 lakh, showcasing a significant gap between police and hospital data. The latest estimated road fatalities in 2017 close to about 1.46 lakh, which is a decline of about 3% over the past year. KK Kapila of International Road Federation said that: “We have been waiting for a stronger road safety law for the past four years. But the more important aspect is enforcement and creating a situation where every violator fears getting caught every time.”
The recent report on road safety shows that in spite of an increase in the overall number of deaths, the world death rate (in relation to the increasing world population) has stabilized in recent years. This proposes that the existing road safety efforts in some middle- and high-income countries may have helped ease the situation.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general, World Health Organisation said: “These deaths are an unacceptable price to pay for mobility.” He also added that: “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.”
Michael R Bloomberg, founder, and CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies and WHO global ambassador for non-communicable diseases and Injuries said that: “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.” He added that: “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.”
WHO during its report has found that in countries where progress has been made, it is largely due to better legislation around key risks. These risks include speeding; failing to use seatbelts; drinking and driving; child restraints; motorcycle helmets and safer infrastructure like sidewalks and dedicated lanes for two-wheelers; enhanced post-crash care and, improved vehicle standards like mandatory electronic stability control and advanced braking.
The report from WHO also states that these measures have led to reductions in road traffic fatalities in 48 middle and high-income countries. Sadly, not even a single low-income country has seen a reduction in their overall mortality rate. It is because of the above-mentioned measures that middle and high-income countries were able to implement were not implemented by these countries. Speaking of numbers, the highest rate is in Africa (26.6 per 1,00,000 people) and the lowest is in Europe (9.3 per 1,00,000 people). Three regions that have reported a visible decline in the road fatalities are- the Americas, Europe, and the Western Pacific.