November 20 is World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims
According to the latest WHO estimates, around 1.25 million people died from road traffic injuries in 2013, with another 20–50 million people sustaining non-fatal injuries as a result of road traffic crashes. Road traffic crashes are the leading cause of death among persons aged 15-29 years worldwide, resulting in considerable emotional and economic losses to victims and their families. Economic losses include the cost of treatment (including rehabilitation and incident investigation) as well as reduced/lost productivity for those disabled or killed by their injuries, and for family members who need to take time off work (or school) to care for the injured. In addition, road traffic injuries cost nations approximately 3% of their gross national product, and this figure rises to 5% in some low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
Although only 53% of the world’s vehicles are in developing countries, more than 90% of road traffic fatalities occur in LMICs. In these LMICs, the majority of road users are vulnerable users including pedestrians, cyclists and those using motorized two or three wheelers. These users are vulnerable as they do not have the “protective shell” around them as they would in a car and are therefore prone to road traffic injuries.
Reducing risk in the world’s road traffic systems requires commitment and informed decision-making by government, industry, nongovernmental organizations and international agencies. It also requires participation by people from various disciplines, such as road engineers, motor vehicle designers, law enforcement officers, health professionals and community groups.
In 2010, a United Nations General Assembly resolution proclaimed a Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011–2020). This Decade was launched in May 2011 in over 110 countries including the United States, with the aim of saving millions of lives by improving the safety of roads and vehicles; enhancing the behavior of road users; and improving emergency services. The recently adopted Sustainable Development GoalsExternal also include a specific stand-alone target in the Health Goal 3.6 to reduce road traffic fatalities by 50% by 2020 and Goal 11.2 to provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons by 2030.
The CDC participated in the 12th World Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion, held 18–21 September 2016 in Tampere Finland. The World Conference called for strong, coordinated whole-of-government and whole-of-society action to reduce the impact of injuries and violence. In addition, the conference emphasized the need for attention to what can be done to achieve the Sustainable Development GoalsExternal and targets, and the need to engage civil society groups, foundations and community-based organizations to reduce the impact of injuries and violence on nations and communities.
CDC also serves as a WHO Collaborating Center for Injury ControlExternal, providing strategic support to meet two main needs:
- Implementing WHO’s mandated work and program objectives.
- Developing and strengthening institutional capacity in countries and regions.
However, there are some challenges to reducing the burden of road traffic injuries including limited in-country road safety expertise and lack of high quality data on road traffic injuries and deaths in many countries.
CDC has worked with various partners, including:
- The Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) on injury surveillance for ongoing projects.
- The Thailand Ministry of Health on improving surveillance for road safety initiatives.
- The Asia Injury Prevention Foundation (AIP) in collecting and evaluating data from the Global Helmet Vaccine Initiative and proving technical assistance to AIP on their USAID Development Innovations Ventures (DIV) program “Head Safe, Helmet On”: an initiative aimed at increasing the use of passenger helmets among children.
- AMEND: creating evaluation plans and tools for the School Area Road Safety Assessments and Improvements project. A program focused on reducing injuries around schools in urban African cities where children are known to be at very high risk for road traffic injuries.
“The Global Helmet Vaccine Initiative, led by the AIP Foundation, encourages policy changes to increase and sustain motorcycle helmet use. As part of this initiative, the Head Safe. Helmet On (HSHO) campaign in Cambodia supported the enactment and enforcement of a national passenger helmet law that resulted in a 25 percentage point increase, from 11% to 36%, in adult passenger helmet use in target provinces over the course of the program. Improved helmet use in HSHO’s three target provinces saved Cambodia an estimated $3,089,316 in avoided losses. (HSHO is supported by USAID-DIV, FIA Foundation and The UPS Foundation, with technical assistance by the US CDC.)” – Mirjam Sidik, CEO, AIP Foundation
CDC also provides mentorship to help train the next generation of public health leaders for road traffic injury prevention by partnering with CDC’s Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP), nongovernmental organizations, and ministries of health. NCIPC, through funds from CDC’s Center for Global Health, provides annual mini-grants to 3-5 FETP residents to work on road traffic injury prevention and NCIPC serves as a technical advisor on these projects.
“The FETP program provided me basic research skills and financial support for my research on helmet wearing among primary school students in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. As a principle researcher of this study, I learn[ed] skills in project management, data analysis, and communication within a community” – Ngoc Thuy Vuong, FETP Trainee 2015 Vietnam
“My two years of FETP competency training enabled creativity in my research. The study on feasibility of having an improved, comprehensive and multi sector Road Traffic Injury Surveillance in Kaduna metropolis, Nigeria with the use of generated information for action initiated the study on trends and distribution of road crash and road traffic injury in Nigeria. Therefore, realizing a brighter future for road traffic injury control in achieving SDG 3.6 goal. Thank you CDC/FELTP!”- Babalola Obafemi Joseph, FETP Trainee 2015 Nigeria
Currently, the CDC, together with the CDC Foundation, has developed a fellowship program designed for FETP alumni that will build upon long-standing investment by CDC and individual countries in FETP, bridging a critical gap between FETP and a career in road traffic injury prevention. Over a two-year term, fellows hosted by ministries of health will receive direct mentorship from road injury prevention experts at CDC, and learn best practices in road safety. By quantifying road injuries and the risk factors that lead to them, Fellows will help create safer roads and safer road users in their home countries. CDC Foundation is currently seeking external funding for this program.
Recently, the CDC Foundation published Business Pulse: Motor Vehicle Safety at Work Externalto highlight steps businesses can take to help protect workers in the United States and overseas from complex motor vehicle safety challenges. These innovative employer strategies use science-based solutions from CDC’s National Institute for Occupational safety and Health (NIOSH).
To learn more about the CDC and its partners’ work in reducing the incidence of road traffic injuries and improving global road safety, the Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention’s Transportation Safety Team offers the following resources:
- CDC Global Road Safety
- CDC Field Epidemiology Training Program
- World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic VictimsExternal
- AIP FoundationExternal
- National Institute for Health and Welfare: Safety 2016External
- World Health Organization: Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015External
- USAID Partnership Launched with 6000 Helmets DonationExternal
- NIOSH: Motor Vehicle Safety at Work