WHO reviews fact sheet on Road Traffic Injuries (9 May 2016)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reviewed its fact sheet on road traffic injuries.

Key Messages:

Around 1.25 million people die as a result of road traffic crashes each year (~3400 deaths per day).

Among 15-29 year old persons, road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death.

Low and middle-income countries account for 50% of the world’s vehicles and 90% of all road traffic deaths. Road traffic injury death rates are highest in the low- and middle-income countries of the African region.

About half (49%) of those dying from road traffic injuries are ‘vulnerable road users’: pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

Without action, road traffic crashes will become the 7th leading cause of death by 2030.

People aged between 15 and 44 years account for 48% of global road traffic deaths.

3 out of 4 road traffic deaths are among young males- among young drivers, young males under the age of 25 years are almost 3 times as likely to be killed in a car crash as young females.

The main risk factors for road traffic injuries are:


  • An adult pedestrian’s risk of dying is less than 20% if struck by a car at 50 km/h and almost 60% if hit at 80 km/h.
  • A 5% reduction in average speed can result in a 30% reduction in the number of fatal crashes
  • When motorized traffic mixes with pedestrians and cyclists, the speed limit should be less than 30 km/h


  • The risk of being involved in a crash increases significantly above a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04 g/dl.
  • Laws that establish BACs of 0.05g/dl or below are effective at reducing the number of alcohol-related crashes.
  • Laws that establish lower BACs (≤0.02 g/dl) for young and novice drivers can lead to reductions in the number of crashes involving young people by up to 24%.

Distracted driving

  • Drivers using a mobile phone are approximately 4 times more likely to be involved in a crash than when a driver does not use a phone.
  • Hands-free phones are not much safer than hand-held phone sets.
  • Drivers using mobile phones may have:
    • slower reaction times (notably braking reaction time, but also reaction to traffic signals),
    • impaired ability to keep in the correct lane, and
    • shorter following distances.

Motorcycle helmets (Non-use/ Improper use of)

  • Wearing a motorcycle helmet correctly can reduce the risk of death by almost 40% and the risk of severe injury by over 70%.
  • Requiring helmets to meet recognized safety standards ensures that helmets can effectively reduce the impact of a collision to the head in the event of a crash.

Seat-belts and child restraints (Non-use/ Improper use of)

  • Wearing a seat-belt reduces the risk of a fatality among front-seat passengers by 40–50% and of rear-seat passengers by between 25–75%.
  • If correctly installed and used, child restraints reduce deaths among infants by approximately 70% and deaths among small children by between 54% and 80%.

Useful Links:

Link to the WHO fact sheet:


Link to WHO page containing Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015 (several languages):


Link to WHO’s infographic on the magnitude of road traffic injuries (PDF):


Link to WHO’s infographic on Drink driving (PDF):


Link to WHO’s infographic on Helmets (PDF):


Link to WHO’s infographic on restraints (PDF):


Link to WHO’s infographic on Seatbelts (PDF):


Link to WHO’s infographic on speed (PDF):


Link to WHO’s interactive map on road traffic deaths:


Link to the WHO Global Health Observatory’s page on road safety:


Link to the UN Secretary-General’s report on Improving Global Road Safety:


Link to the United Nations Road Safety Collaboration web page:


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