According to the World Health Organization, road traffic injuries caused an estimated 1.25 million deaths worldwide in the year 2010. That is, one person is killed every 25 seconds. Only 28 countries, representing 449 million people (7% of the world’s population), have adequate laws that address all five risk factors (speed, drink–driving, helmets, seat-belts and child restraints). Over a third of road traffic deaths in low- and middle-income countries are among pedestrians and cyclists. However, less than 35% of low- and middle-income countries have policies in place to protect these road users.

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74% of road traffic deaths occur in middle-income countries, which account for only 53% of the world’s registered vehicles. In low-income countries it is even worse. Only 1% of the world’s registered cars produce 16% of world’s road traffic deaths. This indicates that these countries bear a disproportionately high burden of road traffic deaths relative to their level of motorization.

There are large disparities in road traffic death rates between regions. The risk of dying as a result of a road traffic injury is highest in the African Region (increasing 26.6 per 100 000 population), and lowest in the European Region (decreasing 9.3 per 100 000).

Half of the world’s road traffic deaths occur among motorcyclists (23%), pedestrians (22%) and cyclists (5%) – i.e. “vulnerable road users” – with 31% of deaths among car occupants and the remaining 19% among unspecified road users.

Adults aged between 15 and 44 years account for 59% of global road traffic deaths. 77% road deaths are among men.

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