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Global Road Safety

Crowded city streetLearn tips to protect yourself and others from road traffic injuries when traveling abroad.

Road Traffic Injuries and Deaths—A Global Problem

Road traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for healthy U.S. citizens traveling abroad. Whether you're on the road, at home, or abroad, know the risks, get the facts, and take steps to protect your safety.

The Reality Around the World

Throughout the world, roads are shared by cars, buses, trucks, motorcycles, mopeds, pedestrians, animals, taxis and other categories of travelers. Travel made possible by motor vehicles supports economic and social development in many countries. Yet each year, these vehicles are involved in crashes that are responsible for millions of deaths and injuries.

Consider the following:

  • 1.24 million people were killed on roadways around the world in 2010
  • Each day, an estimated 3,400 people are killed globally in road traffic crashes involving cars, buses, motorcycles, bicycles, trucks, or pedestrians. Half of those people killed in crashes, globally, are pedestrians, motorcyclists, and cyclists.
  • Road traffic injuries are estimated to be the eighth leading cause of death globally and the leading cause of death for young people aged 15–29.
  • Current trends show that by 2030, road traffic injuries will become the fifth leading cause of death globally.
  • Road traffic injuries place a huge economic burden on low- and middle-income countries and are estimated to cost more than 100
    billion U.S. dollars per year.

Steps for Safety At Home and Abroad

Motor vehicle crashes are a public health concern both abroad and in the United States. These injuries and deaths are preventable. Whether you are a driver, passenger, cyclist, or pedestrian, take the following steps to stay safe on the road:

  • Always use age- and size-appropriate car seats, booster seat, and seat belts.
  • Be alert when crossing streets, especially in countries where motorists drive on the left side of the road.
  • Ride only in marked taxis and try to ride in those that have seat belts.
  • Avoid riding in overcrowded, overweight, or top-heavy buses or minivans.
  • Avoid drinking before driving, even in small amounts.
  • Avoid activities that distract you from driving, like texting or talking on a cell phone.
  • Check the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT) website for driving hazards or risks by country.
Photo: Commuters on a busy street.

Global Road Safety and CDC

The (CDC's) Injury Center is working to reduce the burden of road traffic injuries in low and middle income countries where road traffic injuries are growing at an alarming rate, and to provide direct technical assistance to governmental and non-governmental organizations to:

  • Build capacity for road traffic injury data analysis.
  • Evaluate surveillance systems.
  • Use data for program planning and policy development.
  • Implement integrated road traffic injury surveillance systems.

CDC supports the UN Decade of action and subscribes to the Global Decade of Action Plan developed by the UNRSC and the WHO which aims to:

  • Build road safety management capacity.
  • Improve the safety of road infrastructure and broader transport networks.
  • Further develop the safety of vehicles.
  • Enhance the behavior of road users.
  • Improve post-crash care.

This year's theme for the Third UN Global Road Safety Week (May 4–10, 2015) is "Children and Road Safety." The week draws attention to the urgent need to better protect children and adolescents on the roads and to generate action to do so.

Thousands of people have shown their support with their own #Safies [481 KB]. Help us continue the momentum to #SaveKidsLives!

Additional information about Global Road Safety Week is available.

The following resources can help you learn more about CDC's work in motor vehicle safety:

  • Page last reviewed: May 4, 2015
  • Page last updated: May 4, 2015
  • Content source: