Road Traffic Injury a Big Problem for Global Health

Paying the price of motorisation: the
global road death toll may increase
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The authors of the review, from The George Institute for International Health in Sydney, the University of Auckland, New Zealand and the National Institute of Public Health in Mexico, believe that while motorisation has enhanced the lives of many individuals and societies, the benefits have come with a high price, highlighting a critical need to address road traffic injuries as a public health priority.

Professor Robyn Norton, of The George Institute for International Health, University of Sydney, reported that: “Although the number of lives lost in road crashes in high-income countries has decreased in recent decades, for the majority of the world’s population the burden of road traffic injury is increasing dramatically in terms of societal and economic costs.”

In 2002, 1.2 million people were killed and 50 million injured in road traffic crashes worldwide, costing an estimated US$518 billion. In low and middle income countries, the economic costs of road crashes are estimated to exceed the total amount of development assistance these countries receive annually. “Without appropriate action, road traffic injuries are predicted to escalate from being the ninth leading contributor to the global burden of disease in 1990 to the third leading contributor by 2020,” Professor Norton added.

“The World Bank reports that in 20 years the global road death toll will increase by 66%, although this figure hides a significant divergence between rich and poor nations. While a 28% reduction in fatalities is expected in high-income countries, increases in fatalities of 92% and 147% are anticipated in China and India, respectively.”

Studies in Asia show that motorcyclists have particularly high rates of injury whereas in Africa pedestrians are the most frequently injured road users. With the rates of motorisation increasing dramatically in countries such as India and China, the proportion of motor vehicle occupants at risk of injury is likely to increase.

MEDICA.de; Source: The Lancet