More than 1.2 million die and as many as 50 million are injured every year in Road Traffic Injuries (RTIs). The overwhelming majority of these deaths occur in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) and 40% in the four BRIC countries alone. Recent trends suggest this gap is increasing. In the past fifteen years, RTIs have increased by almost 80% in Asia and by 40% in Latin America and Africa. The opposite is true in high-income countries, however, where RTI rates have been on a path of steady decline over several decades.
Beyond the enormous personal suffering they cause, RTIs weaken economic growth, place a huge strain on health care systems, and challenge development objectives. Across LMICs, losses due to RTIs are estimated at USD 100 billion/year, a figure which incorporates immediate direct costs, such as hospital care admissions, and longer term human capital costs associated with RTI victims no longer being able to take part in economic production processes. At national level, this aggregate translates into losses of 1-3% of GDP, a figure comparable to what LMICs receive in development assistance.
A Global Call for Action
On 11 May 2011, the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 was launched in more than 100 countries, with one goal: to prevent five million road traffic deaths globally by 2020. Moving from the Global Plan for the Decade to national action, many countries have taken measures towards improving road safety, either by developing national plans for the Decade; introducing new laws; or increasing enforcement of existing legislation, among other concrete actions. The recent UN General Assembly resolution on global road safety sponsored by more than 80 countries gives further impetus to the Decade by calling on countries to implement road safety activities in each of the five pillars of the Global Plan.
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