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World Health Day --- April 7, 2004

"Road Safety" is the theme for World Health Day, April 7, when hundreds of organizations will host events to raise awareness of traffic injuries as a global health problem. In the United States, improvements in roadway and vehicle design and in driver and passenger behavior have resulted in a steady decrease in the rate of motor-vehicle--related fatalities during the previous 75 years (1). Despite these improvements, each year motor-vehicle crashes cause approximately 40,000 deaths in the United States and approximately 1 million deaths worldwide (2,3).

Many programs and policies exist to improve road safety and reduce injuries. These include strategies to reduce high-risk behaviors (e.g., alcohol consumption and speeding); promote use of cycle helmets, safety belts, and other protective devices; and protect pedestrians and cyclists by increasing their visibility and separating them from motorized traffic.

The World Health Organization is responsible for coordinating World Health Day activities and will release its World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention (4), underscoring the magnitude of the problem and global prevention strategies. Additional information about road safety events and activities is available at


  1. CDC. Motor-vehicle safety: a 20th century public health achievement. MMWR 1999;48:369--74.
  2. CDC. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2001. Available at
  3. Peden M, McGee K, Krug E, eds. Injury: a leading cause of the global burden of disease, 2000. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 2002. Available at
  4. Peden M, Scurfield R, Sleet D, et al. World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 2004 (in press).

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