Are Road-Crash Deaths An Epidemic?

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Decade of Action for Road Saftey necklace The International Symbol of Road Safety

Every six seconds, someone is killed or seriously injured on the world’s roads. Make Roads Safe calls the 1.3 million deaths and 20 to 50 million injuries per year an “epidemic.”

Based on the definition of an epidemic (200 occurrences per 100,000 of population), road crashes worldwide are becoming an epidemic–and a world health issue. The rise in road-crash deaths and injuries has, in fact, prompted the United Nations (UN) to pass resolution A/RES/64/255 and designate 2011-2020 as ‘The Decade of Action for Road Safety.’ The goal of the resolution is to stabilize and then reduce traffic deaths around the world. The objective is to save five million lives.

There are currently numerous symbols that represent—and have sparked public momentum around—particular world issues, such as the red ribbon for HIV/Aids, the white band to support the fight against global poverty, and the pink ribbon for breast cancer. A prominent yellow Road Safety Tag is now the new global symbol for the movement to improve safety on our roads. The UN, World Health Organization (WHO), and notable individuals such as UK Prime Minister David Cameron, members of the Mandela family, Michael Schumacher (Formula One champion), members of the Ghana Black Stars (soccer team), as well as many other key influencers, have all put their support behind the movement.

Road-crash statistics are alarming, particularly for the youth of our world. Vehicle crashes are currently the leading, global cause of death for young people aged 10 to 24WHO estimates that the financial costs are more than $100 billion US per year. We can stop this epidemic. The science is in place the safety resources are in place. We just all need to take responsibility for driving safely each and every time we get behind the wheel and lend our support to the cause of reducing road deaths and injuries.

“The Decade of Action for Road Safety can help all countries drive along the path to a more secure future… Today, partners around the world are releasing national or citywide plans for the Decade, hosting policy discussions and enabling people affected by road crashes to share their stories widely. Now we need to move this campaign into high gear and steer our world to safer roads ahead. Together, we can save millions of lives.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Message on the launch of the Decade of Action for Road Safety, 11 May 2011.

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