ROAD SAFETY FACTS

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.

Annual Global Road Crash Statistics

  • Approximately 1.35 million people die in road crashes each year, on average 3,700 people lose their lives every day on the roads.
  • An additional 20-50 million suffer non-fatal injuries, often resulting in long-term disabilities.
  • More than half of all road traffic deaths occur among vulnerable road users—pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.
  • Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among young people aged 5-29. Young adults aged 15-44 account for more than half of all road deaths.
  • More than 90% of all road fatalities occur in low- and middle-income countries, even though these countries have approximately 60% of the world’s vehicles.
  • On average, road crashes cost countries 3% of their gross domestic product.
  • Road crashes are the single greatest annual cause of death of healthy U.S. citizens traveling abroad.

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 (RSRs), available for more than 85 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

Road safety is 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.

Recommendations for Policy-Makers

The World Report on Road Traffic Injury and Prevention (WHO) suggests:

  • Identify a lead agency in government to guide the national road traffic safety effort.
  • Assess problems, policies, institutional settings and capacity relating to road traffic injury.
  • Prepare a national road safety strategy and plan of action.
  • Allocate financial and human resources to address the problem.
  • Implement specific actions to prevent road traffic crashes, minimize injuries and their consequences, and evaluate the impact of these actions.
  • Support the development of national capacity and international cooperation.

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