LISTEN UP: The World Health Organisation is calling for tougher road laws around the world to prevent road deaths. Image: AP
Geneva - Countries must introduce tougher laws to prevent drivers from speeding or drinking and help reduce the toll of 1.25-million people killed each year in traffic accidents, the World Health Organisation said on Monday (October 19).
The United States, Indonesia and Nigeria are among countries failing to apply best practices, the Who's Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015.
WHO's director, department of injuries & violence prevention, Etienne Krug, said: "Automakers can also play their part. Too often safety features are sacrificed in order to keep down car prices."
Better laws needed
Who director-general Margaret Chan said, launching the report: "Better laws are needed on speed, drinking and driving, use of motorcycle helmets, seat belts and child restraints."
Halving the number of deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes by 2020 is among the UN's Sustainable Development Goals adopted in September 2015 by world leaders.
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Cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians are particularly vulnerable, accounting for 49% of fatalities, it said.
Chan said that low and medium income countries accounted for 85% of road traffic deaths despite having 54% of the world's vehicles. Europe has the lowest death rates and Africa the highest.
Road safety measures include better safety features on vehicles, the report said.
Click here for full country profiles by the WHO
The World Health Organisation rates South Africa's roads:
Road traffic injuries 2015:
Krug said: "We are talking about some rather simple and basic things such as seat belts, such as front-impact regulations, such as electric stability control.
"The vast majority of cars being produced around the world are still not up to the best safety standards. Very often in many places the safety of vehicles is sacrificed in order to have improvements in prices."
Better trauma care for victims is also key, Krug said.
"And that does not necessarily need to be expensive. Very often the assumption is that we need more helicopters and very fancy ambulances. In fact, a very basic ambulance with minimum equipment and people who are trained in simple (life-saving) measures could do a lot of good."
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said that city had cut traffic deaths to historic lows by making streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians, and it was possible to do that around the world.
Bloomberg said: "Traffic crashes are something like the ninth leading cause of death in the world. They are the number one cause of death for people aged 15-29. The fact is that every one of those deaths really is preventable."