10 facts on global road safety
Updated July 2017
About 1.3 million people die each year on the world's roads and between 20 and 50 million sustain non-fatal injuries. Road traffic crashes are a major cause of death among all age groups and the leading cause of death among those aged 15–29 years.
This fact file presents data from WHO's most recent Global health estimates and the Global status report on road safety, published in 2015. The reports show that road traffic injuries remain an important public health problem. To reduce the number of road traffic deaths and injuries, a holistic framework such as the Safe System approach needs to be adopted to ensure a safe transport system for all road users.
Fact 1: Road traffic injuries are a global public health problemEvery year, there are approximately 1.3 million road traffic deaths worldwide. 93% of these road traffic deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries which only have 54% of the world’s registered vehicles.
Fact 2: Vulnerable road users account for half of all road traffic deaths globallyPedestrians, cyclists, and riders of motorized 2- and 3-wheelers and their passengers are collectively known as "vulnerable road users" and account for half of all road traffic deaths around the world. A higher proportion of vulnerable road users die in low-income countries than in high-income countries.
Fact 3: Controlling speed reduces road traffic injuriesAs average speed increases, so too does the likelihood of having a road traffic crash and the severity of the consequences should a crash occur. An increase of 1 km/h in mean vehicle speed results in an increase of 3% in the incidence of crashes resulting in injury and an increase of 4–5% in the incidence of fatal crashes.
Only 47 countries, representing 13% of the world’s population, have laws that meet best practice on urban speed. This means having a national urban maximum speed limit of no more than 50 km/h and allowing local authorities to modify this limit when necessary, to ensure safe speeds locally.