China / Society

WHO:260,000 die in China as a result of road accidents

By Shan Juan ( Updated: 2016-05-24 11:07

Approximately 260,000 people die in China as a result of road accidents each year and around 6 in 10 of the total estimated deaths are vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, and people on motorcycles, according to the latest WHO estimates.

The information was released on Tuesday as WHO China and the Red Cross Society of China were holding a Health Dialogue under the theme of "Safer Roads Save Lives," designed to provide platforms for strategic discussion on critical public health issues facing China and the world.

"The carnage that occurs on the world’s roads every single day is a public health crisis of gargantuan proportions," said Bernhard Schwartländer, WHO China Representative, addressing the event.

Related economic costs are also substantial, he added. Globally an estimated three percent of GDP on average is lost to road traffic deaths and injuries, and it's even higher at five percent in low- and middle-income countries.

Worldwide, 1.25 million people die from road traffic injuries each year, and another 20–50 million people sustain nonfatal injuries as a result of road traffic collisions or crashes, WHO estimations showed.

Road traffic injuries are a top 10 cause of death globally, and the leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 29.

Schwartländer said,"Countries cannot develop sustainably when this many people are dying and being injured on the world’s roads, as they go about their daily lives. Road crashes impoverish families, ruin livelihoods, and impose a heavy burden on countries’ health systems, societies and economies."

Last year, the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development along with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets.

One of the targets under the SDG ‘Good Health and Well-Being’ includes halving the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents by 2020.

Award-winning actress Michelle Yeoh was present at the event in her capacity as Global Ambassador for the FIA Foundation’s Make Roads Safe Campaign, as well as her role as Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Development Program.

“Around the world, I’ve seen the terrible impact that road crashes have on people’s lives. Making the world’s roads safe for everyone will help to deliver on the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda of ‘Transforming our World’. We must act now to make this issue a global priority,” she said.

Schwartländer agreed, and added, "With the right amount of resources and determination to make changes today, it is entirely within the realm of possibility to create a better and safer road tomorrow."

There is now a wealth of evidence which shows that a range of interventions, from legislation, to changing driver behavior – for example, in areas including speed, use of seatbelts and child restraints, drink driving, and helmet use – to vehicle design and improving road infrastructure, can reduce the risk of injury and death due to road traffic accidents.

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