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Three steps to safer roads in Europe and Central Asia

23 January 2024

Road crashes happen in a moment but can leave lasting damage. This is a global problem with a high human and financial cost. Every year, approximately 1.35 million people are killed and 50 million seriously injured in road crashes around the world. According to the World Health Organization, the average fatality rate for road crashes per 100,000 people in the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) region is 14.4. That is nearly three times higher than the European Union’s average fatality rate of 5.1. 

Road crash injuries burden public health care systems and cost low and middle-income countries the equivalent of 2-6% of their gross domestic product. The vast majority of fatalities occur in low- and middle-income countries, including those in ECA.  Without a concerted effort, the number of road traffic deaths and serious injuries will continue to rise in the region as the fleet of cars and trucks grows.

Three steps to safer roads in Europe and Central Asia that can be applied to the entire region include:

  • A critical first step is making informed road safety decisions based on high-quality data. Collecting and analyzing data to determine where severe crashes are occurring and who is involved should be the starting point. Good data will enable authorities to identify high-risk locations and factors that require immediate attention.
  • Road safety policies and interventions must be rooted in evidence. Managing speeds, providing safe pedestrian infrastructure, and requiring the use of helmets by motorcyclists are some of the key measures incorporated in the world’s most successful road safety programs. Countries in the ECA region can easily tap into the wealth of available evidence on the effectiveness of various road safety interventions.
  • Adequate speed limits deserve a standalone mention. On roads with high interactions between pedestrians and motorized traffic, lowering speed limits to 30 km per hour has been found to result in an average increase of just one minute per journey while saving lives and preventing numerous injuries. 

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