Global Road Safety Depends On Action, Awareness

June 29, 2009
Car Driving in Moscow

About the Author: Nancy Carter-Foster serves as Senior Advisor in the Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science.

Driving may seem like a commonplace activity to many Americans, but it is still a dangerous task at home and in much of the world. Nearly 1.3 million people die and 20-50 million more worldwide are injured in road crashes every year. That translates to 3,500 people dying and 137,000 more being seriously injured or disabled every day. More than half of those killed in traffic crashes are people in the prime of their lives, between the ages of 15-44. It is also the second leading cause of death for children between the ages of 5-15. Road crashes are the leading non-natural cause of death for Americans living, working and traveling abroad.

In November, this critical issue will be addressed in a summit to be hosted by the Russian Federation in Moscow, under UN auspices, to call attention to the far-reaching impact of motor vehicle injuries and fatalities from unsafe driving conditions and roads in both the developed and developing world. This very first Ministerial Summit on Global Road Safety will establish a public, international dialogue about this issue.

Low and middle-income countries carry a disproportionate burden, accounting for 90 percent of the total road fatalities, which is not only costly in human life, but also in economic development and growth. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the annual cost of road traffic crashes in these countries exceeds $100 billion, which amounts to nearly double the total combined development assistance these countries receive every year from bilateral and multilateral donors. Road safety is also a key component in attracting – or discouraging – foreign investment and tourism. As developing countries continue to build infrastructure and add motorized vehicles to the roads at a rate of up to 18 percent per year, it is critical to address the traffic safety issue now. According to the WHO, this growing problem could become the third leading cause of global burden of disease by 2020, if steps are not taken to stem the tide.

There is a great deal of effort and international collaboration on road safety. Improving road safety does not happen by “accident,” but rather through the efforts of many sectors of society, both governmental and non-governmental, to take action and to raise awareness for prevention efforts. The summit host, the Russian Federation, has implemented a special-purpose federal program to reduce road fatalities by 25 percent by 2012. In the last 40 years, the United States has reduced crash rates by more than 50 percent — an encouraging figure that demonstrates that this problem is not insurmountable when addressed appropriately.

I know that deliberate and determined efforts of society are the only way we can drastically improve road safety. This is why it is so important to address the problem as a global community. We are looking forward to the summit and will keep you posted with updates on its progress.



June 29, 2009

CMS writes:

Some interesting figures for sure.

Virginia, USA
June 29, 2009

Donald in Virginia writes:

29 June 09


1. I hope the US Government will take the time and show the CEO of General Motors your nearest junk yard. Lessons learned from all the car accidents. Should also take him to the nearest hospital and have the doctors explain, the car accident patients that arrive, in what conditions they have just after a car accident. The cost associated with Helicopter Paramedics in the sky.

2. Bridges across the world should have monitoring devices that give people the indication that the bridge is safe to cross in vehicles. Placing stickers on vehicles telling them how much emssions they use is a waste, where as the bridge displaying an electronic sign giving the weight, height and condition of the bridge makes more sense.

3. Introducing my new safety device called (EE PODS) Emergency Escape POds which I believe could be used in motor vehicles, helicopters, planes, jets, boats, ships and trains. People may not be aware of this but turtles with a shell can survive alot things in life. Because they do have a hard shell.

4. Engineers design vehicles to travel, fall short on how people can evacuate safely from crashes. Even pilots on Jet planes use the ejection seat, but even sometimes that is not 100 percent.

5. The human body only has 3 layers of skin to protect.

6. The future of motor vehicles should include life saving equipment. Being able to monitor a heart beat, or check your blood pressure, or even your sugar levels. This I believe could all be installed in the Emergency Escape Pod for people. It should also include a device that can restart the heart in an emergency. It also should be law that new vehicles sold come with Emergency First Aid Kits and Emergency Roadside Kits.

7. The cost associated with doing all this? I say this once again, what price can you place on human life? Hospitals and Paramedics can only do so much at the scene of the accident. Having life saving tools available in the vehicles could save a life and allow the time for the ambulance to arrive, along with the time getting them to the hospital safe.

8. Nasa uses this technology already with the Space Shuttle, I think it's about time to jump into the 25th Century and make it happen for everyone.

9. EE - PODS If you want to learn more about my idea, write the State Department.

Pennsylvania, USA
June 29, 2009

Ian in Pennsylvania writes:

I watched a documentary on Road Safety issues on a National Geographic Explorer program which mirror your statements. One key issue that they brought up was increasing the availability and public perception of helmets for children. Thank you for continuing to raise this very important issue.

New Mexico, USA
June 29, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:


This is a real timely post.

We just had four high-school kids killed instantly with one still in critical condition, by a drunk driver this past weekend in my hometown.

If every vehical came standard equipped with a breathalizer ignition interlock system, they'd still be alive.

Tell that to the folks at the summit please.

California, USA
June 29, 2009

Tamara from California writes:

This is a great movement. One thing that really needs to be addressed in developing countries is corruption. In my own experience I know that often road fatalities are covered up through the pay off of local officials and no one goes to jail. No one learns a lesson except if I do it again I will get away with it. Often this corruption is quite open and is the expected normal.

In Cambodia where I lived for a while, a story was related to me that a local child was struck by a car and survived the initial strike but was significantly injured. The driver made the decision to drive over the child again because the penalty for killing someone with a car was about $700 whereas the medical bills would have been higher. Yes - this was a story told to me but the point is clear in these developing countries they don't see a vehicle as a high speed weapon and accidents just happen.

I hope that this type of corruption and twisting of basic ideas of what manslaughter and murder is will be addressed.

Maryland, USA
June 29, 2009

Patrick in Maryland writes:

Hi, My People of the Department Of States, And lol :).

I hope you all are doing well and having a "Great Week".

I think everyone is doing a Great Job of Supporting, and helping Hillary with her work . I have been watching the videos of Deputy Secretary Steinberg and think he has done a super job of filling in for Secretary Clinton. I hope Hillary is feeling better this week and wish her a speedy recovery. :):)

Also Drive safely and don't speed :) Cya :)

District Of Columbia, USA
June 30, 2009

Max in Washington DC writes:

First rate post!
In addition to the authors notations road deaths and injuries take their toll on American personnel serving abroad. My understanding it is one of the leading causes of death. I would be interested to know if The Department of State employees are provided with any advanced training in being safe on the road before their overseas posting. Such training or guidance would be important to share with a larger global audience perhaps on the Global Road Safety page of Wikipedia.

Virginia, USA
June 30, 2009

Donald in Virginia writes:

30 June 09

Natural Diasters, Fires, Collisons, Speeding, Drunk Drivers, Worn Parts, Drivers having heart attacks, or just passing out while driving, losing control. Offensive Drivers or even road rage exist.

Defense Drivers - Have a better maturity level and safe understanding of handling the vehicle.

The point I continue to make is after millions of people continue to perish in motor vehicle accidents, it's time for a change. How many people have been crushed in vehicles, or left at the scene helpless. How many people have been thrown through windshields and died? How many drivers have wrapped the car against a tree, had a transmssion in their lap? How many people have had a vehicles run over them? It's just shocking that everyday there is an accident around the world involving someone's loved ones. It's not just vehicles, it's trains, planes, helicopters, Jets and the kids in the Bus. The cost of medical bills, law suits and broken bones, surgery and medical expenses sky rocket. Which raises the insurance premiums.

The Change which I continue to bring foward is the new "Emergency Escape Pods" because it provides another layer of protection.

- Heat Resistant
- Layer of protective Shell (Same Material used in helmets)
- Floats
- For Aircraft to include parachutes
- Life saving equipment
- Provides emergency equipment
- Escapes the impact by evacuating the entire POD out of the vehicle, out of the plane, out of the ship or boat, or out of the bus or train. The passenger has a safety net.
- The internal design can be user friendly - offering I-POD's, or even extras to make people feel more comfortable.

When we drive on the highways, fly in commercial jet liners, or a passenger on a bus or train, we all need a safety net to protect us. This Emergency Escape Pod is the safety feature designed to help people evacuate safely. Key-Word "Evacuate" not be stunned by the blow of the accident. In simple terms - The passenger and POD deploy out of the vehicle on impact, while being protected by the shell. Which also means the doors on vehicles will have to be changed, hatches on planes and helicopters. This would allow the pod to be ejected.

District Of Columbia, USA
June 30, 2009

Anna in Washington, DC writes:

Thank you for your posting. I am staggered by the numbers you cite and had not considered road safety a "global" issue. I believe public service announcements and enforcement of seat belt laws were effective in promoting safer roads in the U.S. during the 1980s and should be part of a broader strategy. I look forward to reading your updates and wish you success in your efforts.

Nancy C.
District Of Columbia, USA
July 6, 2009

DipNote Blogger Nancy Carter-Foster writes:

Thank you all for your comments. I have enjoyed reading your thoughts and will be mindful of them moving forward. We will continue to keep you updated on progress.

July 13, 2009

Johnson writes:

Road is main thing is driving part,,,,,,,,,,


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