Road traffic accidents: the young people's pandemic

April 19, 2007

Road traffic accidents (RTAs) - not AIDS, cancer or any other disease - are the major cause of death for 15-19-year-olds worldwide. And there are many more male victims than female, says an Editorial in this week's edition of the Lancet.

The Editorial coincides with the publication of the World Health Organisation's "Youth and Road Safety" report, and the start of the first UN Global Road Safety week on April 23.

It says that RTAs are the second most likely cause of death for 10-14 year olds and 20-24 year olds, and the third most likely cause in children aged 5-9 years.

The editorial says: "Most of the victims will be young men and boys. Men aged under 25 years are nearly three times as likely as women of that age to be killed in a road-traffic accident."

It goes on to say that so far April 2007 has been no exception to the horrors of road accidents worldwide. In Induruwa, Sri Lanka, a truck and bus collision killed 23 people, while during the first two days of the Thai new year holiday, 98 people died in RTAs and more than 1,300 were injured.

The Youth and Road Safety report highlights that the problem is worse in poorer countries. In 2002 (the latest year of complete figures), more than half of the estimated 380,000 young people who died in RTAs worldwide were in Africa and south-east Asia.

Further chilling statistics in the report estimate 7,000 people aged under 25 will be killed in RTAs in the upcoming road safety week - and an estimated 1.2 million people of all ages lose their lives each year in RTAs.

As well as loss of life and injury, RTAs in low-income and middle-income countries cost US$65-100 billion. Serious injury can see a person lose their lifelong earning capacity, their education and place a burden on their family who will end up caring for them.

The editorial goes on to say that young male cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians in poorer countries are more at risk of death in an RTA as the roads in those countries are not geared up for motor vehicles to share the road space with them. Protective or bright clothing is also rarely worn in such countries.

Young road users are also at risk due to drinking alcohol, driving too fast, and inexperience of complex traffic conditions. Some deliberately take risks while driving due to peer pressure.

Better road planning, more cyclists wearing helmets, and tougher police enforcement against drink driving are among the measures that would reduce RTA casualties.

The Editorial concludes: "But the individual solution lies with what is perhaps one of the hardest things to change - human behaviour. Road accidents disproportionately affect young people. Being taught about road safety from a very young age must become a priority, with adults setting a good example at all times."


Related Driving Articles from Brightsurf:

Driving behavior less 'robotic' thanks to new Delft model
Researchers from TU Delft have now developed a new model that describes driving behaviour on the basis of one underlying 'human' principle: managing the risk below a threshold level.

Warming temperatures are driving arctic greening
As Arctic summers warm, Earth's northern landscapes are changing. Using satellite images to track global tundra ecosystems over decades, a new study found the region has become greener, as warmer air and soil temperatures lead to increased plant growth.

Software of autonomous driving systems
Researchers at TU Graz and AVL focus on software systems of autonomous driving systems.

Driving immunometabolism to control lung infection
When drugs to kill microbes are ineffective, host-directed therapy uses the body's own immune system to deal with the infection.

Representation of driving behavior as a statistical model
A joint research team from Toyohashi University of Technology has established a method to represent driving behaviors and their changes that differ among drivers in a single statistical model, taking into account the effect of various external factors such as road structure.

Improving the vision of self-driving vehicles
There may be a better way for autonomous vehicles to learn how to drive themselves: by watching humans.

Impaired driving -- even once the high wears off
McLean researchers have discovered that recreational marijuana use affects driving ability even when users are not intoxicated.

Self-driving microrobots
Most synthetic materials, including those in battery electrodes, polymer membranes, and catalysts, degrade over time because they don't have internal repair mechanisms.

AI to determine when to intervene with your driving
Can your AI agent judge when to talk to you while you are driving?

Cooperating may result in better self-driving experience
To better understand and predict the outcomes of the steering wheel control dilemma, contrary to many previous studies, in a paper published in IEEE/CAA Journal of Automatica Sinica, Dr.

Read More: Driving News and Driving Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to