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Facts and Figures of a Global Crisis

Every 30 seconds a person is killed in a road crash - more than 3300 per day - and over 1.2 million people per year dying in road crashes worldwide. As many as 50 million are injured.

More than eighty five per cent of the road traffic deaths and injuries occur in low income and middle income countries, yet they own only some 40 per cent of the world's motor vehicles.

Police records seriously under-report crash and casualty numbers. In some countries, less than half of the deaths that happen as a result of a road crash are reported to the police.

The World Health Organization (WHO) forecasts that by 2020 road crashes will be the third most common cause of premature death in the world and the annual number of deaths are forecast to be double the number today (2006) unless action is taken.

Child crossing in Malawi / ©Make Roads Safe campaign

Vulnerable road users are particular at risk, especially children. 500 children die every day in road crashes. In many Asian, African, and Middle Eastern countries between 40 and 50 per cent of people killed as a result of a road crash are pedestrians.

More children died in Africa in 1998, according to the WHO, from road crashes than from the HIV/AIDS virus.

The percentage of children under 15 killed in road crashes in developing countries is currently almost three times higher than that in highly motorized industrialized countries.

Road crashes kill more young adults (aged between 15 and 44 years) in Africa than malaria.

Road crashes affect predominantly the young and middle aged with approximately 67 per cent of all deaths occurring to those under 45, while retired and elderly people account for 10 per cent.

Road death is the second biggest killer of young men, only HIV/AIDS claims more lives.

Click below for WHO tables ranking the leading causes of death by region.
Change in Rank Order of Disability Adjusted Life Years ( DALYs) for the 15 Leading Causes of Death, Worldwide, 1990 - 2020

Crashes represent an unwelcome and unnecessary drain on medical resources. In low and middle income countries between 30 and 85 per cent of trauma hospital admissions are road crash victims.

The economic cost globally is estimated at between $64.5 billion and $100 billion. This compares with total bilateral overseas aid that amounted to $106.5 billion in 2005.

The cost of a road crash often has vast implications for the affected parties: medical costs and loss of property; human pain, grief and lost work performance, potentially for a lifetime.

Estimates indicate that, over the next 15 years, the number of people dying annually in road crashes may rise to 2.4 million, with the increase occurring in developing and transitional countries. Click here for a graph showing the road fatality trends over the past few decades.

The burden from road crashes tips many households in developing countries into poverty.

Road investment will increase exposure to the risk of road traffic deaths and injuries. Unless a coherent action plan for road safety is also put in place this increased exposure will result in more death and injuries.

The technical capacity of developing countries to develop and implement effective road safety strategies and programmes is weak.

Road deaths are only the tip of the road casualty "iceberg". Conservative estimates indicate that between 30 and 45 injuries occur annually for every road death. Many involve permanent disability and due to their ongoing care and support requirements, will incur a lifetime cost greater than that of a road death.

Most of the road deaths and injuries are preventable.

References

Global Status Report on Road Safety 2013: supporting a decade of action. World Health Organization
http://www.who.int

Commission for Global Road Safety (2006), Make Roads Safe - A new priority for sustainable development. FIA-Foundation, London. UK.
http://www.makeroadssafe.org/

G JACOBS, A AERON-THOMAS and A ASTROP (2000). Estimating global road fatalities. TRL Report 445, TRL Ltd., Crowthorne, UK.
http://www.grsproadsafety.org/themes/default/pdfs/Estimating%20Global%20...

GHEE C and A ASTROP (1997). Socio-economic aspects of road accidents in developing countries. TRL Report 247. TRL Ltd, Crowthorne, UK.
http://www.transport-links.org/transport_links/filearea/publications/1_3...

GRSP (2004), Impact of road crashes on the poor. GRSP, Geneva, Switzerland.
http://www.grsproadsafety.org/themes/default/pdfs/Final%20Poverty.pdf

WHO (2004). World report on road traffic injury prevention. WHO, Geneva.
http://www.who.int/world-health-day/2004/infomaterials/world_report/en/

WHO (1999). Injury: a leading cause of the global burden of disease. WHO, Geneva.
www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/publications/other_injury/injury/en/