Road insecurity and motor loss ratio

Being an undeniable factor of progress, the democratisation of motor-driven cars has turned out to be very costly in terms of road insecurity and its social and economic fallout.

Used with permission from MicrosoftDue to the scale of damage it causes, car traffic is characterized as a slaughter, an epidemic, and even as a war. It is, henceforth, regarded as a serious health issue and a major obstacle to development.

Road insecurity: A worldwide awareness

In 2004, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Bank jointly established the first report on the prevention of road accidents-related traumatism. This document which is meant to be a strong wake-up call for governments and public opinion features current knowledge on the issue and recommends the measures to be taken in order to tackle the problem.

Time to assess the situation

On all roads worldwide, road accidents account for 1.2 million deaths per year.

Each day, 1000 people under 25 perish, 40% of the victims are in the 0 to 25 years age group, 75% of whom are male casualties.

20 to 50 million people are injured per year.

In the 30 OECD countries, young drivers are overrepresented in terms of road mortality.

Traffic accidents hold the 11th ranking in mortality causes and stand in the second position as regards the 5 to 25 age group.

In the absence of appropriate measures, highway crashes are likely to represent the third major cause of mortality by 2020, that is, more than the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

In the USA, accidents affecting drivers aged between 15 and 20 have cost the country about 41 billion USD in 2006.

The overall cost of road accidents worldwide amounts to 518 billion USD per year. This cost includes material damage, health care and other expenses.

Road insecurity: Developing countries are the hardest hit

© Chris73, CC BY-SA 3.0

While in industrialized countries, the financial resources have been mobilised, and prevention measures and fight against road hazards have yielded fruitful results, the situation in other parts of the world still remains worrisome.

Surveys have shown that over 90% of deaths and traumatism cases occur in countries with poor or intermediate income. The highest rates are located in Africa and in the Middle East.

Apart from the poor state of public highways, lighting and road signs deficit and the timeworn vehicles in traffic, these countries do not have efficient emergency rescue services, which considerably increases fatality. The example of the Douala-Yaoundé road in Cameroon, which holds the grim record of the deadliest road in Africa, may be extended to a number of countries in the African continent and in the Middle East.

The annual costs of road accidents in countries with low or intermediate incomes are estimated between 65 billion USD and 100 billion USD. This cost ranges between 1% and 1.5% of GDP, that is, for some cases, more than they get in development aid. Behind each element of the statistics lie human tragedies which seriously affect the life of communities.

Road insecurity: Youngsters in underprivileged areas are the main victims

Image provided to Microsoft by Fotolia. Used with permission from MicrosoftIf in industrialized countries, the victims of road accidents are, in the first place, passengers and vehicle drivers, in countries with low income, it is the vulnerable users who are the most exposed to highway crashes, that is, pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and public transport users.

This situation is accounted for by the policies of transportation and urban planning which do not sufficiently consider the needs of non-motorists who are bound to share space with cars and coaches.

Measures to prevent and fight road insecurity

For the authors of the report, road hazards are no fatality. Most accidents are predictable and avoidable because we do have the necessary knowledge and technical tools. Moreover, the fight against this modern time scourge depends on a nationwide political will which requires considerable financial resources as well as a close collaboration among public and private bodies along with individual and collective undertakings.

Used with permission from MicrosoftGiven the complexity and the scale of the loss ratio, containing this phenomenon requires a systemic preventive approach that addresses the major risks related to the road and its environment, to the user and to his or her vehicle, through legislation, its implementation and through public awareness in terms of protection equipment.

In order to mobilise governments and public opinion on the matter, the October 26, 2005 United Nations Assembly has, through its resolution A/60/5 2005, instituted the first United Nations international week on the topic “road safety is everyone's business”. The event, which took place, for the first time, from April 23 to 29, 2007, has led to multiple awareness-raising actions throughout the world.

Advocated measures to limit road insecurity

  • Lowering speed limits
  • Crackdown on drunken and hazardous driving
  • The use of safety belts
  • Making helmet wearing compulsory for bicycle and motorcycle users
  • Making in-car child stabilisation devices compulsory
  • The improvement in the state of road infrastructure
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