An ‘avoidable epidemic’: The Economist reports on global road deaths

Main Image

With a high profile leader article and feature, The Economist this week reports extensively on road traffic injury, which it acknowledges is an “epidemic raging across the developing world”.

The Economist considers the public health and development impact of road traffic injury, and presents the economic case for investing in road safety measures and prevention.

In a thorough investigation, the publication researched and consulted with some of the principal organisations working on global road safety including the FIA Foundation, International Road Assessment Programme and Johns Hopkins Centre for Global Health.

It highlights the impact on the young and on poor sections of society. Road traffic injury is the leading cause of death for 15-29 year olds worldwide and is a heavy economic burden on low and middle income countries, says the report. And while high income countries are making progress cutting casualties with road safety measures, in developing countries injuries and fatalities are on the increase.

The scale of the impact in low and middle income countries is comparable to the other major health and development crises such as Malaria and Tuberculosis, yet road traffic injury barely registers among the priorities of the donor and international community.

The Economist assesses the costs and benefits of investing in road safety in low and middle income countries. It points to the relatively low-cost and effective countermeasures such as fences to separate pedestrians from traffic in Bangladesh and rumble strips on hard shoulders in Mexico recommended by iRAP. The Economist concludes that given the societal and health costs of road traffic injury, “far from being an unaffordable luxury, safe roads make better economic sense than dangerous ones”. Too often this fact not reflected in low and middle income country development policy and road building projects, the report points out.

For The Economist leader article, click here >
For publication’s main feature, click here >