Road accidents biggest killer of young people – WHO

December 7, 2018 6:41 pm
A man attends to traffic in ZimbabweImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption A man attends to traffic after a bus crash in Zimbabwe this year which killed 47 people

Road injuries are now the biggest killer of children and young adults, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The organisation published figures that also reveal Africa has the worst rate of road traffic deaths in the world.

Its report says many African and South American countries still do not have sufficient speed limit laws.

But it also highlights that global road death rates relative to the size of the world’s population are stabilising.

‘Deadlier than HIV’

Car accidents are the leading cause of death amongst children and young adults aged five to 29 years old in Africa.

The WHO says more people across the continent die from road injuries than from HIV/Aids, tuberculosis or diarrhoeal diseases.

At 26.6 deaths per 100,000 people, Africa’s road fatality rate is nearly three times that of Europe, which has the lowest globally.

According to the WHO, nearly half of the 54 countries in Africa have no speed laws or speed limits in place.

Botswana, Ivory Coast and Cameroon have all seen death rates increase. Egypt, Angola, Burkina Faso and Burudi are among those that have seen a reduction.

Africa also has the highest rate of pedestrian and cyclist mortality.

A road-sized income gap

According to the latest data, about 1.35 million people were killed in car accidents around the world in 2016, up slightly from previous years.

Worldwide, the WHO says the risk of road deaths is three times higher in low-income countries.

South-East Asia trails Africa as the second-most dangerous region, followed by the eastern Mediterranean.

“These deaths are an unacceptable price to pay for mobility,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director-general.

“There is no excuse for inaction. This is a problem with proven solutions.”

But despite an increase in the number of deaths, the UN body says the global death rate from road accidents has stabilised in recent years.

The WHO attributes this to increased safety efforts in middle- and high-income countries. These include the development of safer infrastructure like cycling lanes, and “better” legislation on speeding, seat belts and vehicle standards.

Europe, the Americas and the Western Pacific have all seen a drop in road traffic death rates.

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