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New record low in roads deaths

24 May 2013

Article from the International Transport Forum.

According to the annual IRTAD Road Safety Report 2013 published by the International Transport Forum at the OECD, 2012 has marked a record year, with figures showing the lowest fatalities on record for most OECD-IRTAD countries*.

However, road safety performance in terms of fatalities per 100 000 population varies considerably: Among OECD-IRTAD countries, the difference between the best and the worst road safety performers is 3-fold. Across all IRTAD members and observers, the difference is 9-fold.

The disparity reflects the divide between developed countries with effective road safety policies and emerging economies facing rapid motorisation that outpaces the implementation of safety measures

The bulk of reductions in fatalities has benefitted car occupants. Largely due to increased passive safety features of cars, deaths among car passengers have halved in the past decade.

Results have been less positive for vulnerable road users. Between 2000 and 2010, in OECD-IRTAD countries pedestrian and cyclist deaths fell by only one third, and those of moped and motorcycle riders by only 14%.

The safety of vulnerable road users continues to be a core road safety issue, not least in lower income countries. Also, with many countries seeking to encourage active mobility, improving safety for pedestrians and cyclists is a priority.

Another core challenge is the reduction of serious injuries caused by road crashes. Such injuries often result in lifelong disabilities associated with considerable economic as well as emotional costs. The impact of these serious road injuries is often greatly underestimated, partly because of gaps in the data recording injury crashes. Currently, only a limited number of countries are able to provide sound road injury data.

An internationally accepted definition of a serious injury did not exist until recently. A proposal made by an IRTAD expert group has now been adopted by the European Commission, which is expected to issue a reduction target on serious injuries for the year 2020. The challenge for IRTAD members now is to implement the recommendations.

* OECD-IRTAD members

 Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States.
Non-OECD countries participating in IRTAD activities: Argentina, Cambodia, Colombia, Jamaica, Lithuania, Malaysia, Serbia, South Africa.

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