On February 12th, as part of the effort to draw attention to the growing burden of road traffic injuries, the Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit (JH-IIRU) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health will launch “Global Road Safety: Updates from Ten Low- and Middle-Income Countries,” a special issue of Injury. The launch will coincide with a noontime seminar at the Bloomberg School in Baltimore which features panelists from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

Road traffic injuries (RTIs) account for nearly 1.24 deaths each year, with an additional 20 to 50 million people injured or disabled. In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), the rate of RTIs is twice as high as in developed nations. Today, RTIs are the 8th leading cause of death globally, and if no action is taken, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that they will jump to the 5th leading cause by 2030. Moreover, the economic losses associated with road traffic deaths are just as devastating, costing LMICs an estimated $100 billion every year. While these statistics are shocking, the impact of road traffic crashes is often overlooked as a serious disease burden.

The JH-IIRU is dedicated to reducing those rates of road traffic injuries around the world. Led by Dr. Adnan A. Hyder, in 2010, JH-IIRU joined a consortium of six partners, including the WHO, the Global Road Safety Partnership, ASIRT, EMBARQ and the World Bank, to evaluate and implement road safety solutions in ten countries that account for nearly half (48%) of all traffic deaths globally. The Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Program is a five-year undertaking generously funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and dedicated to evaluating and implementing road safety solutions where they are needed most.  

The goal of the Road Safety Program is to save lives by providing evidence for stronger road safety interventions around the world.  It is equally important, however, to increase awareness of the devastating impact of road traffic injuries.  For this reason, JH-IIRU has published its second special issue.  “Global Road Safety: Updates from Ten Low- and Middle-Income Countries.”  This new supplement features 12 scientific papers jointly authored by nearly 50 JH-IIRU colleagues and collaborators from 30 institutions and organizations within the participating countries. The issue presents findings from the ongoing monitoring and evaluation activities in all ten countries, as well as an examination of the trauma component of the program. It highlights the mixed methods approach of data collection and showcases both the successes as well as the challenges of collecting such data in real-world settings.

“These papers are an important step in building the evidence-base on injury control and road safety in LMICs and demonstrates the promise of mixed-methods research in our understanding of what works in many different contexts for both prevention and treatment of RTIs,” said Hyder.

The supplemental issue is also part of the commitment of the partners in the Global Road Safety Program to share knowledge, provide access to progressive results and stimulate further dialogue on road traffic injury prevention and control in developing countries—something Dr. Hyder sees as vitally important.

“The amount of research done on road safety in LMICs is not proportional to the burden of injury in these countries,” said Hyder. “In the most recent Cochrane review on road safety interventions, only 2.5% of the trails utilized were conducted in LMICs. And all only focused on a single intervention—helmet wearing! It is imperative that we shine a spotlight on the under-recognized burden of road traffic injuries.”

While road safety issues have recently begun garnering more attention, much more work is needed. This special issue brings to light the under-recognized burden of road traffic injuries even as it represents important strides in road safety research.

The Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit gratefully acknowledges Bloomberg Philanthropies for their support, as well as that of our in-country collaborators and consortium partners.

For more information on the seminar, click here.

For more information on the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Program, visit the JH-IIRU website: http://www.jhsph.edu/iiru/index.html

To access the special issue, visit the Injury website at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00201383/44/supp/S4