WHO: Traffic injuries are leading killer of children and young people

Report says there are 1.35 million annual traffic deaths worldwide

A person dies every 24 seconds from a traffic-related incident, according to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO). Annually, that adds up to approximately 1.35 million fatalities caused by road traffic injuries, a figure that is on the rise but reflects a stable rate in relation to the earth's growing population.

The numbers come from WHO's global status report on road safety 2018, which was funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies. The report, which is released every two or three years, represents data collected up to 2016. Possibly the most alarming finding of the report is traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for children and young people ages 5 to 29.

Although the total number of fatalities has continued to go up, there were three areas in the world where the rate of deaths has declined since the last report: the Americas, Europe and the Western Pacific. The Americas stand at 15.6 deaths per 100,000 people, compared to the global average of 18.2. Europe is at an extremely low 9.3, whereas Africa and Southeast Asia have the highest rates of 26.6 and 20.7 deaths. This disparity is a clear example of how both income and legislation/regulation, or lack of, can affect these rates. Low-income countries account for 1 percent of the world's vehicles but 13 percent of these types of deaths, while high-income countries have 40 percent of the world's vehicles and account for 7 percent of deaths.

According to WHO's report, 48 middle- or high-income countries have demonstrated reductions in deaths thanks to safety legislation regarding speeding, drinking and driving, seatbelts, motorcycle helmets, and child restraints; as well as infrastructure adaptations for pedestrian walkways, cycling lanes, and even motorcycle lanes. The second part is particularly important, as the report also points out that 54 percent of the traffic-related deaths involve motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians.

For a full examination of the report, WHO has multiple ways to take in the information, including summaries, infographics, videos, and even GIFs. Getting the word out is important, by any means necessary.

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