Road fatalities drop globally, but India sees a rise: WHO report

Road crashes are the top cause of deaths for children and youth between the ages of five to 29 years

December 14, 2023 03:45 am | Updated 01:10 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Image for representation purpose only.

Image for representation purpose only.

Road traffic deaths fell by 5% to 1.19 million fatalities annually worldwide between 2010 and 2021, with 108 UN member nations reporting a drop, a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) said. India, however, registered a 15% increase in fatalities. 

The WHO’s Global Status Report on Road Safety 2023 shows that, in India, the total number of road traffic fatalities went up from 1.34 lakh in 2010 to 1.54 lakh in 2021. Ten countries succeeded in reducing road traffic deaths by over 50% — Belarus, Brunei Darussalam, Denmark, Japan, Lithuania, Norway, Russian Federation, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. Thirty-five more countries made notable progress, reducing road traffic deaths by 30% to 50%. 

Also read | 53 accidents, 19 deaths per hour in road crashes in 2022: Road Transport Ministry

As of 2019, road traffic crashes have been the leading killer of children and youth aged five to 29 years, and are the 12th leading cause of death when all ages are considered. Two-thirds of deaths occur among people of a working age.  

In the last decade, a 5% reduction in absolute numbers of road traffic fatalities was accompanied with a growth in the global population by nearly 14 billion, or roughly 13%. This translates into the road fatality rate declining from 18 per 1 lakh people in 2010 to 15 per 1 lakh in 2021, which represents a 16% decline in the road traffic death rate since 2010. 

The report also notes that during the same reference period, the global motor vehicle fleet also grew 160% since 2010. Therefore, annual fatality rates per 1 lakh vehicles fell from 79 deaths to 47 deaths, which is a 41% reduction.

The report shows that 28% of global road traffic deaths occurred in the WHO’s South-East Asia Region, 25% in the Western Pacific Region, 19% in the African Region, 12% in the Region of the Americas, 11% in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, and 5% in the European Region.

“Nine in 10 deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, and fatalities in these countries are disproportionately higher when set against the number of vehicles and roads they have. The risk of death is three times higher in low-income than high-income countries, yet low-income countries have just 1% of the world’s motor vehicles,” the report says.

Globally, four-wheel vehicle occupants represent 30% of fatalities; followed by pedestrians, who make up 23% of fatalities; and powered two- and three-wheeler users, who make up 21% of fatalities. Cyclists accounted for 6% of the fatalities, while 3% of deaths were among users of micro-mobility devices, including e-scooters.

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