New WHO European Road Safety Report released

Road Safety Report

Copenhagen, 14 March 2013 - The report "European facts and Global status report on road safety 2013" published today by WHO/Europe reveals significant improvement in overall fatalities but also indicates that only half of European countries have adequate road safety laws.

Fifty-five per cent of the European population live in countries that do not provide the protection of comprehensive road safety laws on the five key risk factors: drinking and driving, speeding, helmets, seat-belts and child restraints. The remaining 45% benefit from rapidly improving legislative change as countries work hard to meet the target set by the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011 2020.

The report demonstrates that improvements are achievable and 40 countries out of 48 have reduced the number of deaths on their roads in recent years.

"The improvements in road safety in the European Region are striking," said Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe. "However, 92 000 deaths per year is 92 000 deaths too many. Thanks to this report, we have a clear vision of what needs to be done and also a clear vision of the human and economic benefits of improving road safety. We would like to appeal to governments to act on this evidence, knowing that this course of action will pay dividends in the short and long term."

Road traffic deaths fell by 25% over three years to 92 492 in 2010. Data on deaths show only part of the picture: for every person dying, a further 23 were admitted to hospital and 112 attended an emergency department, creating a huge drain on health services. Up to 25% of those injured in road traffic crashes ended up with a permanent disability. Road crashes have high economic costs, resulting in a loss of up to 3.9% of gross domestic product.

Other significant findings published in the report include the following.

  • Pedestrians and cyclists are vulnerable: these road users constitute 31% of all road deaths. In some countries, this figure is over 50%, indicating that the needs of these road users are neglected by transport policies that favour motorized transport.
  • Young men are at risk: 54% of those who are killed in road traffic crashes are between the ages of 15 and 44 years, and 75% are male.
  • The lower the income of a country, the higher the risk of dying as a result of a road traffic injury. Mortality in low- and middle-income countries (15.1 per 100 000 population) is over twice that in high-income countries (6.3 per 100 000).
  • Half the countries in the Region have comprehensive legislation to control five main risk factors, but 11 countries still have urban speed limits exceeding 50 km/h and one third of countries do not have adequate helmet laws.
  • Half the countries report that, while laws exist, enforcement is inadequate.
  • Only 15 countries collect comprehensive information on health and disability using standardized definitions.
  • The provision of care by emergency services needs to be improved in 40% of countries.

"European facts and Global status report on road safety 2013" is the second report in a series analysing to what extent countries are implementing effective road safety measures. In addition to the risk factors, it highlights the importance of issues such as vehicle safety standards, road infrastructure inspections and policies on walking and cycling. The report presents information from 51 countries, accounting for 99.4% of the European Region population or 891 million people. It uses a standardized method that allows comparisons to be made between countries, as reported in the WHO Global status report on road safety 2013: supporting a decade of action, which offers an overview of the world situation (182 countries, accounting for almost 99% of the world’s population or 6.8 billion people). The report provides a baseline assessment to measure progress in attaining the goals of the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011–2020, as mandated by the United Nations General Assembly.

The report is available on WHO Europe's website.

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