Faces behind the figures

Voices of road traffic crash victims and their families

Behind every road traffic crash statistic, there are fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, grandchildren, colleagues, classmates and friends whose lives are changed forever. For every severe crash, survivors, relatives and friends can suffer physical, psychological, emotional and economic devastation.

These stories put a human face on the statistics presented in road safety reports. Each of the 1.2 million deaths and 50 million injuries every year has a story to tell. These stories emphasize that if prevention measures and emergency rescue services had been in place, an enormous amount of suffering could have been avoided.

These stories are drawn from the publication Faces behind the figures: Voices of road traffic crash victims and their families, a collaborative project of WHO and the Association for Safe International Road Travel.

  • Brazil: Thiago de Moraes Gonzaga
    Thiago de Moraes Gonzaga died in a car crash just a week before his 18th birthday. The car was being driven by an 18-year-old boy who did not have a driving licence. "It was as if our family had all died together," recalls his mother, Diza Gonzaga, who now works to promote road safety.
  • Cameroon: Jane Njawe
    Jane Njawe died while waiting for treatment at the hospital for five hours after being injured in a road traffic collision. Her husband Pius Njawe recalls the trauma their five children went through. Pius has dedicated himself to promoting road safety in Jane's memory.
  • Egypt: Deana Blanchard
    Seventeen-year-old Deana Blanchard died while trying to cross a busy street without a pedestrian crossing in Maadi. "Every day I see men, women and children dashing and weaving through a blurred maze of cars, buses and trucks and I hold my breath praying that the speeding steel does not end another life," says her father David Blanchard.
  • France: Mathilde and Elise Jurgensen
    Mathilde (7 years) and her sister Elise (4 years) were killed on the way to their grandmother's house when a drunk driver hit the car they were riding in. Their mother Genevieve Jurgensen talks about the emotional devastation she went through before coming to terms with their death.
  • Kenya: Lillian Mworia
    Inappropriate treatment for Lillian Mworia's injuries following a road traffic collision contributed to her being paralysed. She recounts her experience that has forced her to stay in hospital for two years now.
  • Thailand: Satien Luangpiak
    Motorcycle taxi driver Satien Luangpiak was involved in a road traffic crash but escaped with minor trauma to the head and shoulder partly because he was wearing a helmet. He strongly feels that helmet use should be strictly enforced as taxi drivers like him run the risk of losing income, or worse, their lives.
  • USA: Aron Sobel
    Working as a volunteer in Turkey, 25-year-old medical student Aron Sobel died along with 22 others when the bus he was in crashed into a deep ravine. Although the dangerous "death curve" had been the site of many road traffic crashes, no action had been taken to improve the road. Aron's mother Rochelle Sobel recounts the strong sense of guilt she was overwhelmed with after her son's death.

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