WHO: Road accidents are biggest killers among under-25s
400,000 people under 25 are killed in car crashes every year, and millions more are injured or disabled.
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
Road accidents cause more deaths worldwide among people aged 10 to 24 than anything else, according to a new report published by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The report, Youth and Road Safety, says that nearly 400,000 people under 25 are killed in car crashes every year, and millions more are injured or disabled.
The vast majority of these deaths and injuries occur in low- and middle-income countries, and the highest rates are in Africa and the Middle East.
Young people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds are at greatest risk in every country, and young men are at higher risk than young women in all age groups, said the report, which was released as part of the first United Nations Global Road Safety Week (April 23-29).
Unless more comprehensive global action was taken, the number of deaths and injuries are likely to rise significantly, said the WHO, which added that accidents cost an estimated $518 billion globally in material, health and other costs.
For many low- and middle-income countries, the cost of road crashes represents between 1-1.5% of GNP and in some cases exceed the total amount they receive in international development aid. Most of these crashes are predictable and preventable.
"The lack of safety on our roads has become an important obstacle to health and development," said WHO director-general Dr. Margaret Chan. "Our children and young adults are among the most vulnerable. Road traffic crashes are not 'accidents.' We need to challenge the notion that they are unavoidable and make room for a pro-active, preventive approach."
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