2004’s World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention, produced jointly by the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), found that more than 3000 men, women and children are dying every day – up to as many as 1.24 million each year – in road accidents.
Road crashes are the leading cause of death among children, as well as among women and men aged 15-29 in all nations except those worst affected by HIV/AIDS.
The WHO report predicted that, worldwide, traffic accident fatality rates would increase by 60 per cent by 2020 as rates of vehicle ownership in less-developed countries continue to climb rapidly. If something isn’t done, road accidents are likely to be the 7th leading cause of all human deaths by 2030.
A UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011–2020 was announced, aiming at ambitious global targets as part of a plan to reduce fatalities in road traffic accidents.
The WHO report also concluded that higher accident rates are not an inevitable consequence of economic growth:
- By reducing the economic and social impact of traffic deaths, investment in increased traffic safety management has proven to be quickly recoverable and ultimately profitable for most public authorities
- Despite this, the economic burden of poor road safety remains significant, accounting for between 1% and 7% of GDP in many nations
As a proportion of the overall accident rates within the entire road traffic system, vehicle problems have been identified as a factor around 5-10% of the time, with road infrastructure thought to be partly accountable in roughly 10-20% of cases. Human error, by contrast, is responsible for 80-90%.