Traffic-related deaths are now the eighth leading cause of death for people of all ages, according to the World Health Organization’s 2018 Global Status Report on Road Safety. In 2016, there were 1.35 million traffic-related deaths worldwide, making them the leading global cause of deaths for children and young adults between 5 and 29 years old.
The risk of road traffic deaths depends on the location – people in low-income countries have a risk that is three-times higher than those in high-income countries. The report notes that although only 1 percent of the world’s motor vehicles are in low-income countries, 13 percent of deaths occur in those areas.
The report also says that more than half of all road traffic deaths are among vulnerable road users: pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. Globally, 29 percent of deaths are car occupants, 28 percent are using motorized two- and three-wheelers, 26 percent are pedestrians and cyclists.
The WHO report finds that improvement is being made. In the 175 participating countries in the study, 132 have funded national strategies for road safety, and 123 countries have laws that meet best practices for at least one of the five key behavioral risk factors: speeding, drunk driving, not using motorcycle helmets, not using seat belts and not using child restraints. Infrastructure is a major factor when it comes to road safety, the report says, especially when it comes to pedestrian crossings or walkways.