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On The Road To Improved Global Road Safety


Road accidents are the world’s eighth leading cause of death, and that number could rise to fifth by 2030 if nothing is done. While some developed countries are bringing their traffic mortality figures down, the global numbers are going up, largely because developing countries are rapidly including technology and adapting to car cultures, but their laws and infrastructures are not keeping up with the change. Over 1.2 million people die and over 20 million people are injured in traffic accidents worldwide, according to a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Traffic accidents are just as serious as the major infectious diseases, such as malaria, but they tend not to be taken as seriously, reports the WHO. Individuals often dramatically underestimate their personal risks on the road. Furthermore, national policy and even scientific research also tend to overlook traffic danger.

Currently in the middle of the initiative, the WHO is attempting to redirect attention to road danger with their International Decade of Road Safety initiative. The WHO has compiled a report on the current state of traffic accident risk in various countries and what steps individual countries can take to improve safety, such as strengthening laws on speeding, drunk driving, and the use of safety equipment. The report also calls for better enforcement of those laws, better medical care for crash victims, and standardized data collection on road safety and related topics, including traffic fatalities.

So, how does the United States compare to other countries in terms of road safety?

Some of the safest roads in the world belong to Iceland, with only 2.8 deaths per 100,000 people and just three deaths per 100,000 vehicles. Other Northern European countries, plus Spain and Japan, follow, all with traffic mortality rates much lower than those in the United States. The U.S. is on the higher side of average, with roughly 11 deaths per 100,000 people and 13 deaths per 100,000 vehicles. Canada, Australia, much of Eastern and Southern Europe, and both Uzbekistan and Bangladesh also share this rough average. Most of the more underdeveloped roads are in Africa or the Middle East, with traffic death rates per 100,000 people variously in the 20’s or low 30’s. Because some of these countries have very few cars, their traffic mortality rates per 100,000 vehicles are very high, including Chad with over 13,000, for example.

For businesses with a fleet of vehicles, keeping drivers safe on the road is a top priority. By incorporating a GPS tracking system in each vehicle, drivers and fleet managers can improve safety across their entire fleet. With added features including event recordings to capture driver behavior, and alerts to notify fleet managers when drivers are speeding or using vehicles after hours, managers can better train and coach their drivers to be safe on the road.

Doing your part in your business to create a safe environment can bring great impact, and make a contribution to the World Health Organizations’ global goal to keep our roads safe and to save as many as five million lives by the end of the decade.  

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