Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Road safety: A major killer in developing countries like India

Article: Adnan Hyder. 2004;82:240

Road safety is a major public health issue in developing and over-populated countries like India. Unsafe roads, unsafe vehicles and little concern about traffic rules to drivers and pedestrians alike make it a major killer. The three major ingredients of road safety(1)-improved vehicles, improved roadways and driver safety - are as a rule, disregarded in most of the developing countries(2).

A weak and often corrupt law enforcing machinery makes any legislation ineffective. This is why 85% of the annual 1.2 million deaths on road, occur in developing countries. In a country like India, this augments the disease burden and adds more stress on already under-funded public health system.

The change in this situation can be brought about by a strategic long-term effort to improve the roads, make vehicles safe and make traffic education compulsory. This effort has to be sustained, backed by strong political will and accompanied by population education. Even simple measures like bicycle helmets(3), prevention of drunk driving(4), use of seat belts(5) and improved lighting on roads(6) will count towards major reduction in deaths on road.

Milind S Deogaonkar MD. Fellow, Neural Transplantation and Gene Therapy Programme, Department of Neurosciences, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA. Email: deoganm@ccf.org

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  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Achievements in public health, 1900-1999. Motor-vehicle safety: a 20th century public health achievement. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep MMWR 1999;48: 369-74.
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