Friday, May 13, 2011

WHO effort to reduce traffic fatalities

Around 40,000 people per year die in traffic crashes in the U.S. It's one of the major preventable causes of death and the leading cause of death among children. The World Health Organization has begun a campaign to reduce traffic deaths worldwide:
Traffic accidents are the ninth-leading cause of death worldwide and are expected to move to fifth place over the next 25 years. They are the leading killer of teenagers and young adults, causing more deaths among that group than AIDS. More than 90 percent of traffic fatality victims are in the developing world, and half are motorcyclists, bicyclists or pedestrians.

The strategy is to create demand for safer roads, stricter laws and better driving in countries where the toll of traffic injuries is unusually high. It will provide transportation and public health agencies in those places with a tool kit of interventions - seat belt laws, lowered limits for alcohol-impaired driving, dedicated bike lanes, license restrictions for teenagers, improved ambulance service - that have proved lifesaving elsewhere.

"Road safety is coming out of the shadows today, and it is time," said Etienne Krug, head of the injury prevention department at the WHO in Geneva. "Historically there has never been much international attention on this, and we have never had that level of attention from high government officials," Krug said.



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