Magazine article UN Chronicle

World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention

Magazine article UN Chronicle

World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention

Article excerpt

Injuries from road crashes kill 1.2 million people every year and injure or disable as many as 50 million more. The World report on road traffic injury prevention, launched on World Health Day by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank, presents knowledge of the global road traffic injury problem and offers scientifically based evidence and solutions. It stresses that unsafe road traffic systems are seriously harming public health and development, and that the level of injury is unacceptable and largely avoidable.

The report aims to create greater awareness, commitment and informed decision-making at the levels of government, industry, international agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), so that scientifically-proven strategies can be implemented. It also aims to change the perception that road traffic injury is the price to be paid for achieving mobility and economic development, and emphasizes prevention through action at all levels of the road traffic system. Another goal is to help strengthen institutions and create effective partnerships between different sectors and levels of government, as well as between Governments and NGOs, to deliver safer road traffic systems.

According to the report:

* It is projected that between 2000 and 2020, road traffic deaths will decline by about 30 per cent in high-income countries, but will increase substantially in low- and middle-income countries. Without appropriate action, road traffic injuries are predicted to be the third leading contributor to the global burden of disease and injury by 2020;

* Road traffic accidents are crashes that are amenable to rational analysis and remedial action;

* Data on the incidence and types of crashes, as well as a detailed understanding of the circumstances that lead to them, are required to guide safety policy;

* Road traffic injuries are a major public health issue;

* Studies show that motor vehicle crashes have a disproportionate impact on the poor;

* There could be substantial benefits if greater attention in designing the transport system were given to the tolerance of the human body to injury;

* The priority in developing countries, and the most practical course of action for low-and middle-income countries, should be the import and adaptation of proven and promising road safety methods and technology from developed nations, and a pooling of information as to their effectiveness among other low-income countries;

* The experience of some countries indicates that effective strategies for reducing traffic injury have a greater chance of being applied if there is a separate government agency with the power and budget to plan and implement its programme;

* Informed and committed politicians are essential to achieving government commitment to road safety;

* Industry is involved by designing and selling vehicles and other products; and

* NGOs promote road safety by publicizing the problem, identifying effective solutions, challenging ineffective policies and forming coalitions to lobby.

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Making a road traffic system less hazardous requires understanding the system as a whole and the interaction between its elements, as well as identifying where there is potential for intervention. …

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