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Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit

A World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Injuries, Violence and Accident Prevention

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Date: Sep 2014

Today, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a five-year, $125 million Global Road Safety Program to reduce injuries and fatalities caused by road traffic accidents. The International Injury Research Unit at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health will be one of eight organizations participating in the effort.

Find out more about the program here.

Recently, the Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit (JH-IIRU) team members, including assistant professor, Kavi Bhalla, post-doctoral fellow Nino Paichadze, assistant scientist Shivam Gupta, senior technical advisor, David Bishai and director, Adnan Hyder, along with Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Program collaborators from Lipetsk State University of Technology and Ivanovo State University of Technology, published the results of an assessment of change in the national speed enforcement law in the Russian Federation.

In September 2013, the Russian Federation relaxed national speed enforcement rules. Prior to this date, drivers could be fined 100-300 Rubles for exceeding the speed limit by 10-40 km/h, with higher penalties for higher speeds and repeated speed violations. The September 2013 law eliminated fines for driving up to 20 km/h above the speed limit.

Given that reducing vehicle speed is among the most effective road safety strategies, and that there is substantial evidence linking speed enforcement to vehicle speeds, the team hypothesized that the elimination of fines would lead to an increase in the proportion of vehicles speeding.

As part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Program, IIRU has been collecting data on speeding in two Russian oblasts, Lipetskaya and Ivanovo since 2011. The data, collected both before and after the new law suggest that, while significant progress was being made toward effective speed control in those two regions prior to the new law, it appears those gains were lost immediately following.

In a country that has the highest mortality rate due to road traffic crashes in the WHO-European Region, these findings suggest that road traffic injuries will likely increase in Russia unless speeding fines are reinstated. 

“Rapid assessment of road safety policy change: relaxation of the national speed enforcement law in Russia leads to large increases in the prevalence of speeding,” can be found in the July 2014 issue of Injury Prevention.

Read more here

As part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Program, the Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit (JH-IIRU) has been tasked with training and capacity development of local personnel in each of the ten countries. To that end, JH-IIRU hosted a “Training Workshop on Data Collection and Management for Road Safety” in collaboration with Handicap International.  This workshop, held from September 11-12, 2014 in Phnom Penh, provided an overview of data collection methodologies for national road safety programs, including conducting surveys and data management and analysis.  Participants in the workshop included members from the National and Provincial Road Safety Committees in Cambodia, the Ministry of Health, local NGOs, researchers, and others.

These skill- and knowledge-based on-site workshops for in-country collaborators, partners and researchers are part of the three-pronged capacity development strategy, which also includes training and mentoring during the conduct of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) work in each of the countries (learning by doing); and the development and offering of courses on public health methods for road safety offered through the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Several targeted workshops have been conducted in each of the ten countries; each has been tailored to meet local needs. For more information on the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Program, contact us at, or visit our website:                      

In the past five years, the fatality rate among motorcyclists in Mexico has increased significantly; this increase coincides with an increase in the motorcycle fleet. And because motorcycles are less costly and more fuel-efficient than other types of vehicles, this upward trend in use is likely to continue.

Recently, Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit (JH-IIRU) team members, including research program coordinator, Jeffrey C. Lunnen, director, Adnan Hyder and associated faculty, Aruna Chandran, along with collaborators from the Center for Health Systems Research at the National Institute of Public Health, Cuernavaca and Fundación Entornos, also in Cuernavaca, Mexico, published a study on mobile phone use among motorcyclists in three Mexican cities.

While several studies have indicated that using a mobile phone while driving increases the risk of being involved in a road traffic crash by as much as four times, distracted driving is still an emerging risk factor for driving, and as such, very little data is available on its prevalence. In fact, what little data is available is mostly focused on four-wheeled vehicles, pedestrians and, most recently, bicyclists. All indications suggest that “The Prevalence of Mobile Phone Use Among Motorcyclists in Three Mexican Cities,” published in Traffic Injury Prevention, is the first study of its kind.

In Mexico, only a few cities prohibit handheld mobile devices while driving—cities like Guadalajara-Zapopan, Jalisco and León, Guanajuato—and enforcement is difficult. The purpose of this study was to quantify the frequency of mobile phone use while driving a motorcycle in those three cities and to identify possible risk factors associated with that behavior.

The study determined that, while the prevalence is low, it is higher than what has been previously reported in China among electric bicycle riders. This, coupled with the growing popularity of motorcycles and the wide availability of relatively inexpensive mobile devices, may indicate potential increases in crashes, injuries and deaths.

To learn more about the study, click here

On October 16, 2014, as part of an ongoing effort to draw attention to the growing burden of road traffic injuries, the Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit (JH-IIRU) will hold the International Symposium on Road Safety in Low- and- Middle Income Countries at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The symposium will have four sessions: the opening session will introduce participants to the issue of road safety, especially in low- and middle-income countries and the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Program. Session two will focus on risk factors for road safety; session three centers around emergency and trauma care and post-injury care as it relates to  road traffic injuries; and the final session will discuss monitoring and evaluation for road safety.  Our speakers will include experts in global road safety from Brazil, China, India and Mexico. With this symposium, JH-IIRU hopes to both broaden the understanding of the global epidemic of road traffic injuries and show our commitment to road safety from a global perspective.

Approximately 1.3 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes, with an additional 20 to 50 million people injured or disabled. If no action is taken, road traffic injuries are predicted to become the fifth leading cause of death globally 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. In 2010, JH-IIRU joined a consortium of six partners, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP), The Association for Safe International Road Travel (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.  

This is a free event, but registration is required. Additional information, including speaker biographies and driving directions can be found (updated periodically).

Please contact Bobbi Nicotera at with any questions. 

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