Bringing down numbers of road traffic deaths ‘would help economies’

15 Jan 18

Reducing the volume of road traffic deaths and injuries could bring substantial long-term financial gains for low- and middle-income countries because accidents strike hardest at those of working age.

That message came from the World Bank in its report The High Toll of Traffic Injuries: Unacceptable and Preventable.

It took the examples of China, India, the Philippines, Tanzania and Thailand.

The report said little was previously known about the link between road traffic deaths and injuries and economic growth.

But it found that countries that failed to invest in road safety would lose 7-22% in potential per capita GDP growth over a 24-year period.

It put the human cost of continued inaction at more than 1.25m deaths a year.

Road traffic fatalities disproportionately affect low- and middle-income countries, where 90% of global road deaths occur, the World Bank said.

Rising incomes in many developing countries have led to rapid increases in motor traffic, while road safety management and regulations have not kept pace.

The group most affected by death and long-term disability from road traffic crashes was the working-age population – those between 15 and 64.

Deaths and injuries thus disproportionately removed adults from the workforce.

Recommended actions to curb the number of accidents included reducing and enforcing speed limits, reducing driving under the influence of alcohol, increasing seat-belt use and integrating road safety in all phases of planning, operating infrastructure.

José Luis Irigoyen, World Bank senior director for transport, said: “This it is one of the first systematic efforts to estimate both the potential economic benefits and aggregate social welfare gains of reducing road traffic injuries in low- and middle income countries. 

“Curbing road traffic injuries would not just be a victory for the transport sector but a significant milestone for global development, with immediate and far-reaching benefits for public health, wellbeing, and economic growth.”

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