Global collaboration on road traffic injury prevention.
Worldwide, nearly 1.2 million people are killed in road traffic crashes every year and 20 million to 50 million more are injured or disabled. These injuries account for 2.1% of global mortality and 2.6% of all disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost. Low- and middle-income countries account for about 85% of the deaths and 90% of the DALYs lost annually. Without appropriate action, by 2020, road traffic injuries are predicted to be the third leading contributor to the global burden of disease. The economic cost of road traffic crashes is enormous. Globally it is estimated that US$518 billion is spent on road traffic crashes with low- and middle-income countries accounting for US$65 billion--more than these countries receive in development assistance. But these costs are just the tip of the iceberg. For everyone killed, injured or disabled by a road traffic crash there are countless others deeply affected. Many families are driven into poverty by the expenses of prolonged medical care, loss of a family breadwinner or the added burden of caring for the disabled. There is an urgent need for global collaboration on road traffic injury prevention. Since 2000, WHO has stepped up its response to the road safety crisis by firstly developing a 5-year strategy for road traffic injury prevention and following this by dedicating World Health Day 2004 to road safety and launching the WHO/World Bank World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention at the global World Health Day event in Paris, France. This short article highlights the main messages from the World Report and the six recommendations for action on road safety at a national and international level. It goes on to briefly discuss other international achievements since World Health Day and calls for countries to take up the challenge of implementing the recommendations of the World Report.