Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Global Impact: A Few Latin Nations Reduce Road Safety Accidents, Most Do Not, 1.24 Million Killed Globally

According to EFE, Latin America is “making great efforts” to improve highway safety, but they are still “not sufficient,” according to what the World Health Organization's Department of Injuries and Violence Prevention director Etienne Krug said recently.

“More can be done at the political level to improve the legislation in many areas. The condition is political will and this does not exist in all countries,” Krug said during the presentation of the “Global Status Report on Road Safety 2013: Supporting a Decade of Action.”

On a positive note, though, México, Perú, Colombia and Argentina have made the most progress in the area of highway safety and are now on the global list of countries with the fewest victims of traffic accidents, Krug emphasized.

Additionally, Brazil’s so-called “Dry Law,” which prohibits all drinking and driving, has led to a significant drop in highway fatalities, the WHO official said.

COMMENT: Despite the positive news, in 2010 there were 1.24 million deaths worldwide from road traffic crashes, roughly the same number as in 2007. The report shows that while 88 Member States were able to reduce the number of road traffic fatalities, that number increased in 87 countries.

Only 28 countries, covering just 7% of the world’s population, have comprehensive road safety laws on all five key risk factors: drinking and driving, speeding, and failing to use motorcycle helmets, seat-belts, and child restraints.

As I have said on all too many occasions in the past, traffic accidents, particularly in developing countries, poses a clear and present danger to foreign travelers worldwide, but particularly in countries that drive on the "left," where foreign tourists and travelers from countries driving on the "right," often have accidents, largely because of their unfamiliarity with the rules of the road. 

By far, one of the best resources on driving resources in the world continues to be the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT). ASIRT sells road travel reports on all countries, which can be ordered through http://www.asirt.org.