- Death toll swells to 1.35 million each year: WHO
- Half of those killed were walking or on two-wheelers
- Motorcyclists account for 43 percent of deaths in Southeast Asia
The number of traffic-related deaths reached a high of 1.35 million in 2016, according to the 2018 Global Status Report on Road Safety, released by the World Health Organization yesterday. It has also moved up to the eighth leading cause of death for people of all ages, ahead of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.
The number of fatalities annually has swelled by around 100,000 in just three years, with road accidents now the leading killer of children and young people between the ages of five and 29, the UN health agency said in a new report.
"These deaths are an unacceptable price to pay for mobility," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.
"There is no excuse for inaction. This is a problem with proven solutions," he said.
According to Friday's report, "not a single low income country has demonstrated a reduction in overall deaths", adding that the risk of a road traffic death remains three times higher there than in high income countries.
The death rate in Africa is particularly high, counting 26.6 annual traffic deaths for every 100,000 citizens, compared with 9.3 in Europe, where the death rate is the lowest.
The report also shows a devastating disregard for the most vulnerable in traffic, with more than half of all those killed in road accidents either walking or on two wheels.
Pedestrians and cyclists account for 26 percent of all traffic deaths, with the figure as high as 44 percent in Africa.
Motorcyclists and their passengers meanwhile account for 28 percent of all road deaths, but the figure soars to 43 percent in Southeast Asia, the report said.