Picture: UN-Photo/Tobin-Jones

Roads cause massive burden on population health, new report finds

Safer and cleaner road transport is critical for achieving health and development goals around the world, according to a new World Bank-backed report.

Prepared by the University of Washington’s Global Road Safety Facility and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the report is the first to assess the global health loss as a result of road injuries and pollution.

It concludes that 79.6 million healthy years of life are lost every year as a result of motorised road transport. This is 3.2% of the total global burden of disease and injuries.

It also finds that:

  • deaths from road transport exceed those from HIV, tuberculosis, or malaria;
  • road injuries and pollution contribute to six of the top 10 causes of death globally;
  • road injuries are the fourth-leading cause of death among women aged 15 to 29 years.

“This is a powerful wake-up call,” says World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “These alarming findings underscore the urgent need to spread improvements in transport pollution and safety across world regions. Road crashes cost an estimated 1 to 5 per cent of GDP in developing countries, undermining efforts to reduce poverty and boost shared prosperity.”

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