WHO Maps World’s Deadliest Roads

WHO Maps World’s Deadliest Roads

GENEVA – The most dangerous place in the world to travel on roads is in the impoverished East African state of Eritrea, says the World Health Organisation (WHO) in its first report on global road safety.

To identify the most hazardous roads, WHO experts sifted through a mass of data which showed that around 1.3 million people are killed each year on the world’s highways. A further 20 to 50 million people sustain non-fatal injuries.

The global record for road deaths per capita goes to the former Italian colony of Eritrea where figures showed an estimated 48 deaths per 100,000 people.

Road travel in the Cook islands in the South Pacific is nearly as dangerous too, with a statistical 45 deaths per 100,000. The archipelago north-east of New Zealand is home to just 13,325 citizens and five of them died in road accidents in 2007. Egypt (41.6) and Libya (40.5) also both had a poor road safety record.

Driving too fast, drinking and driving along with the failure to use seatbelts and talking on mobile phones while at the wheel were given in the report as key contributing factors to the high number of fatalities and accidents on roads around the world.

“These are stunning figures that need not, should not, be so high. Over 90 percent of these deaths occur in low-income and middle-income countries, which have less than half of the world’s registered vehicles. This is another statistic that tells us something is wrong,” WHO Director General Margaret Chan said in a statement.

Chan said the report’s findings would serve as a basis for discussion at the First Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety, which is due to take place in Moscow in November 2009.

“This will be a milestone event in international road safety that will serve as a call to action to reduce the impact of road traffic crashes over the next decade,” said Chan.

The safest road conditions were found amid the islands and atolls which make up the Micronesian nation of the Marshall Islands. Here 59,000 residents have a mere 2,487 vehicles between them. Only one fatal road accident was recorded in 2007.

France and Germany suffered 7.5 and six fatalities per 100,000 respectively compared to Britain (5.4) and the US where more than 251 million vehicles are registered. The quota here was 13.9 fatalities per 100,000 people. A similar level could be found in Sri Lanka, Turkey and Azerbaijan.

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