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March 31, 2004

Road Safety Focus of World Health Day 2004

Road Safety Is No Accident; 1.2 Million Deaths Could Be Prevented Each Year

Adnan Hyder, MD, MPH, PhD, an international road traffic safety expert with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, will participate in events for the World Health Organization’s (WHO) World Health Day 2004. Dr. Hyder will also address a United Nations forum on April 15. For the first time in its history, WHO will devote World Health Day to road traffic safety. The annual event, held each April 7, will focus on the magnitude of the problem road traffic injuries pose globally and promote successful ways to prevent these accidents. Each year, 1.2 million men, women and children are killed, and millions more are disabled. The rate of injuries and deaths increases in developing nations where pedestrians and vehicles share the same roads.

World Health Day 2004’s main event will be an international symposium in Paris, featuring testimonials and panel discussions on traffic safety. The WHO will also release the “World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention,” which was co-edited by Dr. Hyder, who is an assistant professor and the Leon Robertson Faculty Development Chair in the School’s Department of International Health. He is also a member of the School’s Center for Injury Research and Policy. Dr. Hyder will also participate in a roundtable discussion on how governments and academic institutions can help reduce road traffic deaths and injuries. Hundreds of organizations around the world will host regional and national events throughout the day to raise awareness about road traffic injuries and their cost to society.

“These events have been planned to stimulate a new level of commitment to taking on this issue,” said Dr. Hyder. “It is important to have follow-up after World Health Day 2004 to ensure road traffic injuries aren’t forgotten or simply thought of as infrequent accidents. These injuries and deaths are predictable and preventable.”

World Health Day 2004 will address the known strategies to prevent these traffic deaths, such as reducing rates of speed, limiting alcohol consumption, wearing proper restraints and ensuring greater visibility of people walking and cycling. A five-year strategy for road traffic injury prevention has been developed to ensure the awareness campaign maintains its momentum after World Health Day 2004.

Although the vast majority of road traffic deaths and injuries occur in developing countries, the issue remains a concern for developed countries. In the United States, 71,000 pedestrians were injured and 4,808 were killed in traffic crashes in 2002, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. These deaths represent 11 percent of all traffic fatalities. In the state of Maryland, the five-year average (1998-2002) of pedestrians involved in accidents is 2,896. More than 100 of those were fatal.

Dr. Hyder also authored an editorial on road traffic injuries in the April 2004 issue of Bulletin of the World Health Organization. In it, he states, “These events represent unprecedented opportunities for the global health community to wake up to the preventable devastation caused by road traffic injuries. National players need to take charge and develop plans of action that are evidence-based, specific to their context and practical to implement. It is time to initiate activities which will lead to a sharp decrease in the loss of life and health from road traffic injuries, especially in low and middle income countries.”

Dr. Hyder is scheduled to address the United Nations on April 15, at the Stakeholder Forum on Global Road Safety. In addition, he has plans for future road traffic injury prevention studies in Malaysia, Pakistan, Kenya and Uganda.

Public Affairs Media Contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Kenna Brigham or Tim Parsons at 410-955-6878 or paffairs@jhsph.edu. Photographs of Adnan Hyder are available upon request.