A WHO study finds (unsurprisingly) that non-motorists disproportionately bear the brunt of traffic fatalities. Car accidents are the 10th leading cause of death in the world, and are on track to become the fifth leading cause by 2030. And the Washington Post (June 17) headlines the story “Fewer Cars, More Traffic Fatalities”—as if the problem were too few cars!
Fewer Cars, More Traffic Fatalities
Nearly half of the 1.2 million people killed in traffic accidents around the world each year are not in cars. They are on motorcycles and bicycles or walking along roadsides.
That finding, released in a report yesterday, may help explain why 90 percent of the world’s traffic fatalities occur in a group of countries that together have fewer than half of the world’s cars.
The country-by-country survey of traffic injuries and deaths was published by the World Health Organization. Its 287-page report focuses on an overlooked problem in public health, and it gives a sense of where 178 countries stand in their use of such safety measures as speed limits, helmet laws and blood alcohol restrictions.
Traffic accidents were the 10th-leading cause of death in the world in 2004, behind lung cancer and ahead of diabetes, and they are on track to become the fifth-leading cause by 2030.