First report on global road safety published
24 June 2009 -- Road traffic crashes around the world take the lives of 1.2 million people every year. Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are most at risk, finds the first global assessment of road safety.
Transcript of the podcast
Veronica Riemer: You’re listening to the WHO podcast, and my name is Veronica Riemer. In this episode, we review the results of the first global assessment of road safety.
Rochelle Sobl: On 3 May 1995, I received a phone call that's every parent's nightmare. The voice on the other end told me that my son had been killed in a bus crash in Turkey.
Adnan Hyder: Road traffic crashes around the world take the lives of over 1.2 million people each year. And between 20 and 50 million suffer non-fatal injuries. This means that approximately every second someone is injured and every 30 seconds a victim dies.
Veronica Riemer: WHO has recently published the first global status report on road safety. Funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the report presents information from 178 countries accounting for over 98% of the world's population. WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan spoke at the launch of the report in New York.
Dr Margaret Chan: The report gives us a very clear picture of the road traffic injuries as a global health and development problem. Can you imagine the burden on the family and on the community, on hospital services and so on, just to take care of these injured persons? I mean, it is something that is preventable and it is unacceptable that when we know what to do and yet we are not taking measures to prevent the loss of life and limbs and the suffering of so many people.
Veronica Riemer: Among the findings of the report was the fact that almost half of the estimated 1.2 million people who die in road traffic crashes every year pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists. Dr Etienne Krug, Director of WHO's Injuries and Violence Prevention Department, explains.
Dr Etienne Krug: Those people are travelling on the road without the protective shell of a car. What has happened is that over the last decades, we have developed our transport policies with the car in mind. We are making roads for cars. We are making possibility to travel by car much easier, but we are forgetting pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists. Those are now the ones who are becoming more and more getting killed, injured and disabled on our roads.
Veronica Riemer: This is a particular problem in lower-income and middle-income countries where the number of motor vehicles is increasing fast, without roads having been built with safety in mind. Less than 15% of all countries have comprehensive laws on seatbelts, motorcycle helmets, speed, drink-driving and child restraints. In most countries where laws exist, the enforcement is very weak. Michael Bloomberg from Bloomberg Philanthropies, which funded the study, tells us how the collected data will be used to bring about change.
Michael Bloomberg: We have the numbers, we have some demonstration projects, we have examples of how to do things, now we have got to put it into action. The next challenge is to bring it to the attention of those who can implement change and also to bring it to the attention of those who are the victims, and maybe they can demand change.
Veronica Riemer: Dr Margie Peden from WHO's Unintentional Injuries Prevention Department says the key message should be that steps can be taken to prevent loss of lives in road crashes.
Dr Margie Peden: I think a lot of people are still fatalistic about road traffic crashes, but they are preventable and that is why we like to call them crashes, or collisions and not accidents. They are not acts of God, there are things that we can do about it. Much can be done to reverse this epidemic.
Veronica Riemer: That was Dr Margie Peden. If you would like to find out more about road safety, there are links to related information on the transcript page of this podcast episode. Look for the link to the podcast on the home page of our web site, at www.who.int
That's all for this episode of the WHO podcast. Thanks for listening. If you have any comments on our podcast or have any suggestions for future health topics do drop us a line. Our email address is Podcast@who.int.
For the World Health Organization, this is Veronica Riemer in Geneva.