Urgent action required to tackle escalating road-traffic crashes worldwide

A review in this week's issue of THE LANCET highlights how concerted action is urgently needed worldwide to tackle the global burden of injuries and deaths caused by road-traffic crashes. Attention is specifically required in low and middle-income countries where the numbers of road injuries and deaths continues to rise.

Around 1.2 million people were killed and 50 million injured in road-traffic crashes worldwide in 2002, costing the global community about US$518 billion. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has described the situation as "a worsening global disaster destroying lives and livelihoods, hampering development and leaving millions in greater vulnerability". Without appropriate action, road-traffic injuries are predicted to escalate from the ninth leading contributor to the global burden of disease in 1990 to the third by 2020.

A 2004 WHO report and the subsequent collaboration of 42 agencies worldwide led to the UN General Assembly to pass a new resolution on road safety on Oct 26, 2005. In addition to recommending the implementation of the WHO report to reduce road-traffic injuries and deaths, the UN also called for the organisation of the first UN Global Road-Safety Week (April 2326, 2007); and requested that Member States and the international community recognise the third Sunday in November of every year as the World Day of Remembrance for Road-Traffic Victims.

Associate Professor Shanthi Ameratunga (University of Auckland, New Zealand) and colleagues outline the current evidence for the severe toll that road-traffic crashes have worldwide, and emphasise the under-reported burden in low and middle-income countries.

Dr Ameratunga comments: "Motorisation has enhanced the lives of many individuals and societies. But the benefits have come with a price. Although the numbers of lives lost in road crashes in high-income countries have declined in recent decades, for most of the world's popu

Contact: Joe Santangelo

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