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Advancing Science for Global Health
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Home > Global Health Matters July /August 2022 > Preventing road injuries saves countless lives: Road Safety Series in the Lancet Print

Preventing road injuries saves countless lives

July / August 2022 | Volume 21 Number 4

The crowded streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Poorly maintained vehicles, coupled with crowded roads and hazardous driving conditions cause a high incidence of traffic accidents throughout the country. Kendra Helmer/USAIDThe risk of road traffic deaths is nearly three times higher in low-income countries than high-income ones.

The global toll of road traffic injuries is immense, causing more than 50 million injuries and disabilities and ending 1.35 million lives each year, according to a series of articles published in The Lancet.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals did not achieve its target of halving the number of road traffic deaths by 2020, explained the authors led by Fogarty grantee Dr. Adnan Hyder of the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. In fact, no low-income country and less than a quarter of middle-income countries have seen a decrease in the number of road deaths over the past decade. 

Worse, 104 countries showed an increase in deaths during that period. 

The authors estimate that proven interventions—such as reducing speed limits and drunk driving incidents, along with using helmets, seatbelts and child restraints—could prevent 25-40% of fatal road injuries. These measures would especially benefit low- and middle-income countries, where more than 90% of road traffic deaths occur. While prevention is the cornerstone for saving lives, improved post-crash care could also reduce mortality by 35%.

The study data include first-ever nation-specific estimates (for 185 countries) of the positive effects of addressing road safety. These estimates can be used as a starting point for public officials to change policies and shape priorities, the authors stated.

More Information

Updated August 12, 2022

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