Only 28 countries, covering 7% of the world’s population, have comprehensive laws on all five key risk factors on road safety, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO)road safety report for 2013.
The five risk factors include drinking and driving, speeding, and failing to use motorcycle helmets, seat-belts, and child restraints.
According to WHO, about 1.24 million people die each year on the world’s roads and between 20 and 50 million sustain non-fatal injuries. Young adults aged between 15 and 44 years account for 59% of global road traffic deaths.
In its Global status report on road safety 2013 released today, WHO calls for rapid legislative changes if the number of deaths from road traffic crashes is to be substantially reduced.
In 2010, according to the report, there were 1.24 million deaths worldwide from road traffic crashes, roughly the same number as in 2007. The report shows that while 88 Member States were able to reduce the number of road traffic fatalities, the number increased in 87 other countries.
WHO says member states need to have in place laws covering the five key risk factors so as to reduce road traffic mortality.
The report highlights that 59 countries, covering 39% of the world’s population, have implemented an urban speed limit of 50 km per hour or less and allow local authorities to further reduce these limits.
Another 89 countries, covering 66% of the world’s population, have a comprehensive drink-driving law, defined as a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit of 0.05 grams per deciliter or less.
The report further indicates that 90 countries, or 77% of the world’s population, have motorcycle helmet laws which cover all riders on all roads with all engine types and have a motorcycle helmet standard.
The report shows that while 111 countries or 69% of the world’s population have comprehensive seat-belt laws covering all occupants, 96 countries, or 32% of the population, have a law requiring child restraints.
Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, says political will is needed at the highest level of government to ensure appropriate road safety legislation and stringent enforcement of the laws. Without this, she says, families and communities will continue to grieve, and health systems will continue to bear the brunt of injury and disability due to road traffic crashes.
The report also highlights that most countries – even some of the best performing in terms of the safety of their roads – indicate that enforcement of these laws is inadequate.
The report presents information on road safety from 182 countries, accounting for almost 99% of the world’s population.
This report is the second broad assessment of the road safety situation and serves as a baseline for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020, declared by the UN General Assembly.