New Report Tallies Road Deaths at 1.35 Million in a Year
This is a rather dismal article for us to write at the start of the New Year. But we promise to try to end it on a positive note.
The recently released Global Status Report on Road Safety 2018 by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) reports that road traffic deaths reached a worrying 1.35 million in 2016. Of this number, over half involve pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, a group most vulnerable yet often neglected in road safety measures.
Insert silver lining, albeit a very faint one: the global rate of road-related deaths compared to population has remained stable for the last 15 years, ie. around 18 deaths per 100,000. That said, considering that the United Nation has a goal to halve the number of global road-related deaths and injuries by 2020, it is safe to say that this target is no longer realistic.
It appears that there is a correlation between income and road safety. The risk of death is three times higher in low-income countries than in high-income ones. Here’s a twisted stat: even though only 1% of the world’s motor vehicles are found in low-income countries, 13% of deaths occur in there. South East Asia experience higher than average global rate of road traffic deaths, at 20.7 deaths per 100,000 people.
Although there have been efforts to improve the safety of those operating/inside the vehicle as well as those around it on the road, progress has been made mostly in high-income nations.
Road traffic injury is now the leading cause of death of kids and young adults (aged 5 to 29 years). In fact, more people die from it than from HIV/AIDS. So, if you’re poor and young…stay off the road? Ok, sorry, not funny.
But here’s the positive note that we promised. Efforts are being made on all levels, and certainly in Automology’s neighbourhood.
Take Thailand, for instance. The maximum speed for urban roads is 80 kph—best practice is only 50 kph. Initiatives to reduce the national speed limit failed, but since 2017, local municipalities have been taking matters into their own hands. By September 2018, half of the provinces reduced their speed limits to no more than 50 kph. Research has shown that even small reduction in speed limits can greatly improve driving behaviour.
In our home country of Malaysia, the child car seat was recently made mandatory.
As Michael Bloomberg, who is the CEO of Bloomberg Philantrophies, which financed the study, said, “(Road safety) really is one of our great opportunities to save lives around the world.”