The global epidemic of road crash fatalities and disabilities is gradually being recognized as a major public health concern. The first step to being informed about global road safety and to developing effective road safety interventions is to have access to facts.

Road Infrastructure and Management

Intelligent road design and management play a critical role in road safety. Well-constructed infrastructure includes effective traffic management systems; traffic calming measures such as traffic circles, speed bumps, lane narrowings and speed cameras; segregation of slow from high speed vehicles; barriers or medians to separate two-way traffic; improvement of road surfaces and removal of roadside hazards and black spots; effective road furniture such as guardrails, signage and lighting; and wider lanes and shoulders for high-speed roads. Fast-moving traffic should be diverted from rather than traverse highly populated areas and be connected by spurs or other similar means.

Effective measures must also be put in place for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. These include sidewalk infrastructure, safe crossing points, dedicated lanes for pedestrians and cyclists, crosswalks and crosswalk enhancements, pedestrian overpasses, raised islands, increased crossing times and signalized intersections and the designation of car-free zones.

Annual United States Road Crash Statistics

  • More than 38,000 people die every year in crashes on U.S. roadways. The U.S. traffic fatality rate is 12.4 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.
  • An additional 4.4 million are injured seriously enough to require medical attention.
  • Road crashes are the leading cause of death in the U.S. for people aged 1-54.
  • The economic and societal impact of road crashes costs U.S. citizens $871 billion.
  • Road crashes cost the U.S. more than $380 million in direct medical costs.
  • The U.S. suffers the most road crash deaths of any high-income country, about 50% higher than similar countries in Western Europe, Canada, Australia and Japan.
  • Pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities continue to rise in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more pedestrians and cyclists were killed in 2018 than in any year since 1990.

Click to enlarge the infographic.

Road Crashes:
Predictable and Preventable

A number of factors contribute to road crashes and resulting deaths and severity of injuries. These include:

  • Poor road infrastructure and management
  • Non-road worthy vehicles
  • Unenforced or non-existent traffic laws
  • Unsafe road user behaviors and
  • Inadequate post-crash care.

By understanding each of these factors and through planning, effective management and evidence-based interventions, road crashes can be predicted and prevented. Having access to accurate and updated information about the current road situation enables drivers, pedestrians and passengers to make informed road safety decisions.

ASIRT’s Road Safety Reviews (RSR), available for more than 90 countries, provide corporate travelers, study abroad students and faculty, humanitarian organizations and individual travelers with country-specific information helping them to make these decisions.

Reducing Road Crashes:
A Shared Responsibility

Reducing road risks requires commitment and informed decision-making by government, industry, non-governmental organizations and international agencies. It also requires the participation of people from many different disciplines, including road engineers, motor vehicle designers, law enforcement officers, health professionals, the media, educators, community groups and individual road users. Strong public awareness campaigns are essential to raise understanding of the issue and motivate individual and governments to take action, comply with existing laws and introduce and/or amend laws that do not exist or are ineffective.

Vision Zero is a strategy first implemented in Sweden in the 1990s to eliminate all traffic fatalities and serious injuries while increasing safe, healthy and equitable mobility for all. Vision Zero has now been adopted in many counties throughout the world. The Vision Zero philosophy maintains that traffic deaths are preventable and compensates for inevitable human errors on the roads. Vision Zero recognizes that people will sometimes make mistakes and therefore the road system and related policies should be designed so that human error does not result in death and serious injury. To accomplish this, a safe system must be designed. The Safe System approach to road safety aims to protect people from death and serious injury by ensuring that all aspects of the transport system are designed to safeguard the road users and the inevitable errors that they will make.

The Safe System Approach is a holistic view of the road transport system and the interactions among roads and roadsides, travel speeds, vehicles and road users. It is an inclusive approach that caters for all groups using the road system, including drivers, motorcyclists, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, and commercial and heavy vehicle drivers.


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