Car Crashes Resulted in 1.35 Million Deaths Globally in 2016: WHO report

Fatalities associated with car crashes are now one of the top ten leading causes of death among people of all ages, and the number one cause of death for children and young adults, according to the findings of a new study. .

The World Health Organization (WHO) released the Global Status Report on Road Safety: 2018, this month, warning that roadway fatalities have moved up to the eighth leading cause of death across the world, ahead of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

For more than 15 years, the rate of car crash deaths globally has remained around 18 per 100,000 people per year. However, research by WHO found the new average recorded in 2016 was 27.5 deaths per 100,000 population, with roadway fatalities now the leading cause of death for children and young adults between the age of five and 29 years of age.

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WHO researchers collected traffic fatality data from 174 countries and found 1.35 million fatalities were recorded in 2016 alone, which is approximately an eight percent increase since a similar study was performed for 2015.

Researchers broke down the traffic fatality data by recorded income levels and found that low-income countries only account for one percent of the world’s motor vehicles, however, these countries disproportionately accounted for 13 percent of all roadway deaths.

Although 48 middle and high income countries successfully reduced roadway fatalities in 2016, the death rates per 100,000 still ranged from 9.3 to 15.6.

WHO officials recorded 140 of the 175 participating countries have national strategies for road safety that include speed limits, yet only 123 of those countries have laws that meet the best practices standard for high risk behaviors such as speeding, drunken driving, motorcycle helmet requirements, seatbelts and child restraints.

A deeper review of countries with laws aligning with the best practices for child restraints found only nine percent of people in the world live in countries with a national child restraint law meeting WHO’s best practices. Researchers discovered only 84 countries had child restraint laws, and only 33 of those countries aligned with the best practices. WHO officials believe a wider acceptance of best practices could help drastically decrease child vehicle fatalities.

Researchers found that countries with lower recorded income levels also had poor roadway regulations and unsafe roadway conditions. The report suggests regions with higher fatality rates such as Africa and South-East Asia should adopt WHO’s standards for roadway best practices to help mitigate roadway deaths.

In addition to children and young adults being the most prone to vehicle crash fatalities, researchers found pedestrian, cyclists, and motorcyclists represented more than half of all global deaths. Pedestrians and cyclists accounted for 26 percent of all deaths, while those operating two and three-wheeled bikes vehicles made up 28 percent of all deaths.

Since 2014, 22 countries have added laws on one or more high risk behaviors to bring them in line with WHO’s best practices. Researchers estimated an additional one billion people were covered by this implementation, and encourage the rest of the world to adopt these practices to help prevent motorists and pedestrian fatalities.

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