Millions Of Young Lives Lost On The World’s Dangerous Roads; Safety Investments Needed

Nearly two million children and youths could be saved and almost 12 million more serious injuries could be prevented if road safety improvements known to work were implemented across 77 low- and middle-income countries. The economic return on investment for those changes would be at least threefold in all the countries reviewed and up to fifty-fold in others.

Those are the main findings of a new report by the FIA Foundation, a London-based nonprofit that works to support safe and sustainable mobility.

“This report shows the huge potential for road safety investment to prevent road crashes wrecking young lives,” Lord Robertson of Port Ellen and FIA Foundation Chair, said in a statement. “A thousand young people in this age group are dying on the world’s roads every day, a conflict-scale carnage, and thousands more are injured. We know how to prevent this, we have the tools.”

The study, Development of the Investment Case to Reduce Road Traffic Injuries among Adolescents, commissioned by the foundation, was released last week in advance of the first-ever United Nations High Level Meeting on road safety on June 30th in New York.

The analysis, conducted by Victoria University and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, both in Melbourne, examined how proven road safety interventions like traffic speed reductions, safe road infrastructure design, motorcycle helmets, drunk driving enforcement and vehicle safety measures could prevent death and serious injury to young people aged 10 to 24 between now and 2050.

The high casualty rate, the report noted, is due in large part to lack of strong infrastructure as well as ignorance of road safety on the part of both drivers and pedestrians.

Road traffic injury is the leading global cause of death for young people aged 5-29, according to the World Health Organization. “These injuries can be life-changing and life-long for victims and their families,” researchers for the report said.

The study focused on case studies in Tanzania, Vietnam, and Colombia. In Tanzania, the impact was particularly compelling, according to the report. If all recommended interventions were implemented, it would reduce youth deaths by 58% and serious injuries 59%.

In Vietnam, implementation would cut youth death by more than 60% and serious injuries by nearly 57%, and Colombia, which has made significant progress on road safety, researchers said, could achieve a further 53% reduction in adolescent road traffic fatalities if it implemented all interventions.

The reductions for all three countries were estimated to occur by 2030.

Donors, national governments and city authorities, “must now provide the funds and the political commitment to save young lives,” Lord Robertson added.

Along with the report, the foundation announced new funding commitments of about €5 million from a number of sources that include support for: the UN Road Safety Fund; the Safe Schools Africa initiative; motorcycle helmet initiatives in Jamaica and Rwanda; and the Real Urban Emissions (TRUE) initiative, which aims to tackle urban air pollution from vehicles.

To read the full report, click here; to learn more about the FIA Foundation’s work, click here.

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