By Gift Briton

Over the last decade, road traffic deaths have reduced globally by five percent to 1.19 million. This is despite global motor vehicles more than doubling, road networks significantly expanding, and the global population rising by nearly a billion.

This is according to the Global Status Report on Road Safety 2023, recently released by the World Health Organization (WHO).

However, even though there was an overall decline in road traffic deaths globally, not all regions recorded a decline. The report reveals that the greatest drop was recorded in regions where a safe system approach to road safety was implemented. The approach is a holistic road safety method that puts people and safety at the center of mobility.

The report further shows that the European region, with the greatest concentration of countries with policies and laws that align with the safe systems approach, recorded the largest decline in road traffic deaths over the last decade.

The European region recorded a 36% decline in deaths followed by the Western Pacific Region reporting a 16% decline, the South-East Asia Region at 2% decline, with regions of the Americas recording a constant number of deaths over the last decade.

Africa, on the other hand, became among the few regions that recorded an increase in road traffic deaths. The region accounted for 28 out of the 66 countries that recorded an increase in deaths.

The report also shows that road crashes are the top cause of death for people between 5-29 years, with nine in ten road traffic fatalities globally happening in low-income countries.

WHO has set a target to reduce global road traffic deaths to below 600 thousand by 2030. However, to achieve this milestone, implementing measures to mitigate the risk of death and injury, including enacting laws that meet WHO best practices is critical.

Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, the Director-General World Health Organization, in his footnote message in the report, urged countries to build safe systems and match the political will with the scale and urgency of the crisis, adding that the “need for action is urgent, to realize the promise of safe and sustainable mobility and a safer, healthier and better future.”

“Governments must lead mobility strategies that are rooted in good data, backed by strong laws and funds, and that include all sectors of society. Businesses must put safety and sustainability at the core of their value chains. Academia and civil society must generate evidence and hold leaders to account. Youth can demand action and help take it,” the message reads.

Also, Michael Bloomberg -Founder of Bloomberg L.P. & Bloomberg Philanthropies in his message, encouraged governments to take action and implement laws that meet the WHO best practice criteria for addressing road safety’s key risk factors.

“More countries need to step up regulation of vehicle safety standards, which can protect everyone involved in a collision. Right now, nearly 80 countries have no laws at all on vehicle safety standards. As this report makes clear, faster progress on road safety requires stronger commitments from governments worldwide,” he notes.