Annual road transportation death toll rises

KARACHI: The annual death toll linked to road transportation is higher than many policy makers realize, reaching at least 1.5 million people worldwide and rising, according to a new analysis.

The report, Transport for Health, counts the number of lives lost to road crashes and, for the first time, also quantifies deaths related to vehicle pollution.

It offers practical actions countries can take now to improve transportation, air quality, and road safety data, says a new World Bank report.

Road crashes claim 1.3 million lives every year and injure some 78 million people— 90 percent of them in developing countries. The numbers are disturbing, but they only begin to tell the story of the global health risks connected to road transportation.

A new report, Transport for Health, quantifies for the first time the combined impact of road crashes and air pollution from vehicles, and in doing so raises the annual death toll linked to motorized transport to more than 1.5 million worldwide. Together, the number of lives lost to road crashes and pollution from vehicles now exceeds the global totals for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, or diabetes, based on Global Burden of Disease data.

“This is a powerful wake-up call. … These alarming findings underscore the urgent need to spread improvements in transport pollution and safety across world regions,” writes World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim in the foreword to the report. He notes that the toll also reflects an estimated 1 to 5 percent of GDP lost to developing countries, “undermining efforts to reduce poverty and boost shared prosperity.”

Mitigating the risks of road injuries and vehicle pollution will require a long-term investment strategy to build the capacity of national institutions so they can better manage safety and mobility performance, the report says. Developed countries took decades to reverse the rising toll from road transportation, the report notes. Today’s developing countries can learn from those lessons to move more quickly.

The report also calls for increased collaboration of the transport, health, and urban sectors, among others, to achieve sustainable transport and health policies.

“This report details why multi-sectoral frameworks and interventions are so important to achieving end results in this field,” says Senior Transport Specialist Marc Shotten, the Bank’s lead author on the report. “Ultimately these approaches are about how a road transport system maximizes the health gains for a population and supports economic growth.”

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