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Global Road Safety

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

Photo: Commuters on a busy street.Throughout the world, roads are shared by cars, buses, trucks, motorcycles, mopeds, pedestrians, and other 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:

  • In 2010, 1.24 million people were killed on roadways around the world.
  • 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 seat belts and child safety seats.
  • 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 (www.asirt.org).

Global Road Safety and CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s Injury Center works to raise awareness of the issues that put motorists, motorcyclists, cyclists, and pedestrians in harm's way.

During Global Road Safety Week (May 6–12, 2013), the World Health Organization, in collaboration with CDC and other partners, will release a report on “best practices” for pedestrian safety outlining the global problem, risk factors, and interventions to prevent or reduce pedestrian injuries around the globe.

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

More Information

  • Page last reviewed: May 2, 2013
  • Page last updated: May 2, 2013
  • Content source:
    • Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs
    • Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs
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