Traffic deaths spiked in three years, global report says
Monday, December 10, 2018, 5:11 PM - Deaths and injuries from traffic accidents spiked over the last three years worldwide, according to a new report, though it seems Canada and other higher-income countries are bucking that trend.
The World Health Organization's Global status report on road safety, released this month, found some 1.33 million people die each year from traffic accidents in the most recent data, 100,000 more than three years ago, and such accidents are the leading cause of death among children 5-14, and adults 15-29 years of age. Aside from the deaths, the WHO estimates some 20-50 million people suffer traffic-related injuries.
Traffic deaths were much higher in lower and middle-income countries than in higher-income countries, making up 93 per cent of the global total, despite accounting for only 59 per cent of registered vehicles in the world.
Some 46 per cent of those killed are what the WHO considers "vulnerable" road users -- pedestrians, cyclists, and people on motorcycles -- and they make up four fifths of those killed in lower and middle income countries.
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The WHO says more needs to be done worldwide to bring the numbers down, ranging from more comprehensive laws to better enforcement. From the report:
"The adoption and enforcement of traffic laws appear to be inadequate in many countries. The development and effective enforcement of legislation is critical in reducing drink-driving and excessive speed, and in increasing the use of helmets, seat-belts and child restraints. This survey showed that only 15% of countries have comprehensive laws which address all five of these risk factors. Enforcement scores for all five risk factors is generally low, which suggests the enforcement of road safety laws needs to be improved. This requires political will and providing law enforcement agencies with sufficient human and financial resources to mount effective enforcement activities. Enforcement efforts must be well-publicized, sustainable, and implemented by the use of appropriate measures and penalties for infringement."
CANADA: ROAD DEATHS TRENDING DOWN
The report includes individual country profiles, including for Canada, where the WHO says drivers and passengers of four-wheeled vehicles together made up 74 per cent of fatalities in 2006, the last year from which the WHO drew the Canadian data. That year, some 2,889 people were killed on the roads, and 199,337 injured, based on police data.
But even in 2006, the WHO notes Canadian traffic deaths were trending down, and more recent data shows today's situation is even more encouraging.
According to Transport Canada, the number of fatalities in 2016, the most recent year for which there is data, was 1,898 -- around a thousand fewer than in 2006 -- and 160,315 were injured, also markedly down from the 10 years prior.