Bridging the Roadway Safety Gap in Developing Countries

June 15, 2012
More than a million people die in traffic crashes each year worldwide – and most of those deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. In a new study, researchers address how to better implement road safety initiatives in these developing countries.

"We know that 90 percent of road traffic deaths occur in low- and middle- income countries, despite the fact that they have less than 50 percent of the world's registered automobiles," said Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit (JH-IIRU) Director Adnan Hyder. "We know that relatively inexpensive interventions can be effective. For example, wearing a seatbelt correctly can reduce the risk of fatalities by 61 percent. So why wouldn't you support that?"

The researchers, led by Hyder and doctoral student Katherine Allen, along with members of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP) and Bloomberg Philanthropies, set out to address the gap between available roadway safety interventions and the fact that these interventions are not implemented in developing countries.

Their recommended solutions included:

· Coordinated action across multiple sectors
· Strong political will
· Rigorous evaluation
· Global funding
· Evidence-based interventions
· Capacity building
· Sustainability

Top 10 Nations for Traffic Deaths

The report also revealed the 10 countries contribute to nearly half (48 percent) of all traffic deaths globally: Brazil, Cambodia, China, Egypt, India, Kenya, Mexico, Russia, Turkey and Vietnam.

As a result, the paper introduces the Road Safety in 10 Countries project (RS-10), a 5-year initiative dedicated to reducing the burden of road traffic injuries in the 10 low- and middle-income countries noted above by evaluating and implementing road safety solutions in places where interventions are needed the most.

The goal of RS-10 is to save lives by providing evidence for stronger road safety interventions around the world. By targeting the10 countries that account for nearly half of all traffic deaths globally, the project addresses many of the proposed characteristics of an effective response, including a scale and focus appropriate to the burden, coordination across multiple sectors, and training and capacity building for in-country collaborators. The project has not only provided funding for each of the participating countries to address road traffic injuries, but also has created partnerships between local, national and global experts on road safety, which in turn will support long-term sustainability.

"The RS-10 project affords us a unique opportunity to help address a sizeable portion of the world's burden of road traffic injuries," said Hyder.

The study was funded with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies and was published in the current issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

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