Global Road Safety
Road traffic crashes are the world’s leading cause of death for children and young adults 5–29 years of age.1 Road traffic injuries result in as many as 50 million injuries per year—which exceeds the combined population of the world’s two largest cities.1,2
Throughout the world, roads are shared by cars, buses, trucks, motorcycles, mopeds, pedestrians, animals, taxis, 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 1.35 million deaths and up to 50 million injuries.1
Whether you’re on the road at home or abroad, know the risks and take steps to protect your health and safety.
Steps for Road Safety At Home and Abroad3
- Always use a seat belt on every trip, no matter how short. Be sure to buckle up whether you are in the front seat or the back seat of the vehicle.
- Make sure children are always properly buckled in a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt that is appropriate for their age, height, and weight, and make sure they are buckled in the back seat of the vehicle.
- Always wear a helmet when driving or riding on motorcycles, motorbikes, or bicycles.
- Do not drive while impaired by alcohol or drugs, and avoid riding with a driver who is impaired.
- Obey speed limits.
- Drive without distractions. For example, don’t use a cell phone or text while driving.
- 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 taxis that have seat belts.
- Avoid riding in overcrowded, overweight, or top-heavy buses or minivans.
- Check the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT) website for information about driving hazards and road safety risks by country.
- For more information about road safety, overall safety, and security in every country of the world, visit the country information page on the U.S. Department of State website.
Global Road Safety and CDC
CDC supports the UN Decade of Action for Road Safetyexternal icon and subscribes to the Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011–2020)external icon, developed by the UN Road Safety Collaboration (UNRSC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The plan encourages countries to implement activities according to the following five pillars:
- Building road safety management capacity.
- Improving the safety of road infrastructure and broader transport networks.
- Further developing vehicle safety.
- Enhancing safe behavior of road users.
- Improving post-crash response and care.
World Health Assembly Resolution 69.7 pdf icon[PDF – 224 KB]external icon (adopted May 2016) called for WHO Member States to develop a set of 12 voluntary global road safety performance targets pdf icon[PDF – 192 KB]external icon to accelerate the reduction of road traffic injuries and the improvement of road safety. In November 2017, the targets were finalized and adoptedexternal icon. They can help countries assess their progress towards accomplishing activities within each of the five pillars.
CDC has also provided technical and funding support for WHO reports, manuals, documents, and technical packages. The most recent document, titled Save LIVES – a Road Safety Technical Packageexternal icon (2017), is an evidence-based inventory of priority interventions that can help road safety professionals, governments, and other decision-makers to reduce road traffic injuries and achieve the road safety-related Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets (3.6external icon and 11.2external icon). It focuses on Speed management, Leadership, Infrastructure design and improvement, Vehicle safety standards, Enforcement of traffic laws, and post-crash Survival.
The 13th World Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion, held in November 2018, produced The Bangkok Statement. This statement called for stronger and better-coordinated actions by governments and by society to prevent injuries and violence and to minimize their impact. The statement emphasized greater leadership, strengthened policies/legislation, promoted positive societal norms, scaled up effective injury prevention interventions, and improved monitoring and information systems.
The statement also recognized that the end of the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011–2020 is approaching quickly, and it acknowledged that achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) road safety targets 3.6external icon and 11.2external icon will not be possible without intensified efforts to improve global road safety. This would require effective multi-sectoral coordination and the adoption and implementation of comprehensive, effective road traffic injury prevention interventions.
Each day, almost 3,700 people are killed globally in road traffic crashes involving cars, buses, motorcycles, bicycles, trucks, or pedestrians. More than half of those people killed in crashes are pedestrians, motorcyclists, and cyclists.
Each year, 1.35 million people die on the world’s roads. Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among children and young adults aged 5–29 years.
The Traffic Conflict Technique (TCT) Toolkit is a comprehensive guide that describes five different methods to evaluate the impact of a road safety intervention by collecting and analyzing traffic conflict data. A traffic conflict occurs when two or more road users are at risk of colliding if their movements do not change. The TCT Toolkit focuses on pedestrian-vehicle traffic conflicts in and around school zones in low- and middle-income countries. Download the TCT Toolkitpdf iconexternal icon to learn more about how to improve road safety in school zones.
- World Health Organization (WHO). Global Status Report on Road Safety 2018. December 2018 [cited 2019 November 19]. Available from URL: https://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/road_safety_status/2018/en/external icon
- WorldAtlas. The 10 Largest Cities in the World. [cited 2019 November 19]. Available from URL: https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-10-largest-cities-in-the-world.htmlexternal icon
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC Health Information for International Travel (Yellow Book 2020). Chapter 8 – Travel by Air, Land & Sea – Road & Traffic Safety. 2020 Edition. [cited 2019 November 19]. Available from URL: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2020/travel-by-air-land-sea/road-and-traffic-safety