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March 15, 2013

Bloomberg School Researchers Contribute to WHO Global Status Report on Road Safety

On March 14, the World Health Organization launched its Global status report on road safety 2013. The report, which serves as a baseline for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020, as declared by the UN General Assembly, presents information from 182 countries that make up nearly 99 percent of the world’s population. Adnan Hyder, director of the International Injury Research Unit at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JH-IIRU) was among a panel of experts in Geneva discussing the findings of the report. The panel included colleagues from the Bloomberg Foundation, FIA Foundation and Youth for Road Safety (YOURS). Both Hyder and JH-IIRU associate director Abdulgafoor M. Bachani contributed to the report.

The report reveals, among other things, that the total number of road traffic deaths remains unacceptably high at 1.24 million per year; the highest road traffic fatalities are in middle-income countries, particularly those in the African region; and legislation addressing the five key risk factors of drinking and driving, speeding, and failing to use motorcycle helmets, seat-belts, and child restraints remains inadequate.

Despite some discouraging news, the report also reveals encouraging progress: Eighty-eight countries reduced deaths between 2007 and 2010 and 35 countries passed laws to address one or more of the five key risk factors during the same time period.  And although the number of total road traffic deaths has remained largely unchanged since 2007, the 15 percent increase in the number of registered vehicles around the world since that time suggests that interventions to improve global road safety have mitigated the expected rise in the number of deaths worldwide and that many more lives can be saved if countries take action.
There is still more work to be done. The report suggests a need for a more standardized data collection on fatalities; an overall improvement in the quality of road safety data on road traffic deaths, non-fatal injuries and disabilities; and stresses importance for better pre-hospital care. The report also advocates for better protections for the most vulnerable road users—pedestrians and cyclists.

A strong body of scientific evidence exists showing that adopting and enforcing legislation related to road safety interventions leads to reductions in road traffic fatalities.  This report highlights the need for countries to commit to a concerted and coordinated multi-sectoral effort to reduce road traffic injuries based on that evidence.
The Global status report on road safety 2013 was possible through funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies. This is the second in a series of Global status reports.

To access the full report, visit: You view the launch of the report at

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health media contact: Tim Parsons at 410-955-7619 or