When you crunch the numbers on official transportation statistics, you will see that, around our globe, an average three thousand automobile related-deaths occur each and every day. Alcohol and other drugs are serious factors to highway safety issues. In fact, they are found to be a contributing cause in up to 22 percent of vehicular accidents on the world’s highways and byways. Automobile-related deaths rank as the 11th most common cause of death in developing countries, with young people in the age groups from 5 to 24 years old possessing the highest risks.
Public Transport Affords Little Safety in Many Places
Low and middle income countries have less than half of the world's vehicles. Nonetheless, they contribute to over 90% of the total number of road traffic deaths. Their poorly maintained road networks and a lack of resources to enforce road safety laws and get medical assistance are major factors. Contrarily, the countries with the lowest rates of road accident deaths are chiefly comprised by high income countries that possess the resources necessary to maintain their roads at a high standard and enforce stricter road usage laws. In higher income countries, public transport systems are applauded for their safety records. However, in some lower income countries, public transport vehicles are believed to be among the main causes of vehicular deaths. In Nigeria and Kenya, for example, public transport providers are known to fill up their cabins well past safe capacities, while exceeding the speed limits along their routes with open contempt for the rules of the road, all the while manning vehicles that are far from adequately suited for their passengers’ uses.
Low-Priced Cars, High-Priced Risks
The majority of the vehicles sold in low and middle-income countries are not able to meet basic road safety standards that approach global norms. Regulations within these countries that define what makes a vehicle roadworthy are lax, making them ideal dumping grounds for old vehicles. From there, locals often take advantage of the low costs associated with importing old vehicles that barely run and pose public health risks for their personal use. Reducing the number of car users in these countries would go a long in reducing the ratio of road accident deaths per capita. This will be hard though, considering that only 33% of countries around the world have active policies that encourage people to walk or cycle as an alternative to driving, and limited resources will make it difficult to pass and implement policies of their own.
Dangers to Pedestrians and Cyclists
Half of the people killed in road accidents are pedestrians, cyclists, or operators of two-wheeled vehicles. They are referred to as ‘vulnerable road users.’ In the Americas, the proportion of motorcycle deaths rose to 20% from 15% between 2010 and 2013, and in South-East Asia and the Pacific regions the proportion is as high as 33%. Vulnerable road users are especially at risk in countries where their needs are not taken into consideration during the design phases of road construction projects. ‘Zebra crossings’ are few and far between in places where vulnerable users are not considered, and bike lanes are almost non-existent. The problem is compounded by the fact that governments take little initiative when it comes to reducing automobile congestion on their roads.
The Necessity of Globalized Efforts
At a conference held in Brasilia, officials from transport as well as health departments from the governments of numerous countries came together to discuss global road safety issues, and the pressing need to take action to achieve the road safety goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. There, they discussed the passing of new laws to curb the high number of road accident deaths based on practices involving seat belt use, speed restrictions, motorcycle helmets, and child restraints. This will not be enough, however, if countries fail to act on their promises and enforce their mandates. Improvements in public transport systems will go a long way in making it safer for the pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists alike who share our planet’s roads. Developing countries do not deserve all the blame, as even in many developed countries many motorists fail to realize that the road is for all users, not just for people driving cars, and many perceive traffic laws more as nuisances than as hard-set rules to live and drive by.
Countries With The Highest Road Traffic Death Rate
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|Rank||Country||Estimated road traffic death rate (per 100 000 population)|
|4||Democratic Republic of the Congo||33.2|
|5||United Republic of Tanzania||32.9|
|6||Central African Republic||32.4|
|10||Sao Tome and Principe||31.1|