Road traffic injuries

In the European Region, road traffic crashes killed over 90 000 people in 2011 and injured at least 2 million people. Two out of three road victims are from poorer countries, and 43% (almost 40 000) of those who die are pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists who are vulnerable road users, as reported in "European facts and Global status report on road safety 2013”. Speed is one of the  most important determinants of safety in road transport systems, and it is estimated that a 5% cut in average speed in the European Region could reduce the total number of fatal crashes by 30% or save over 27 000 lives. 

This is an improvement from 2008 when the "European status report on road safety" reported that there were 120 000 deaths and 2.4 million injuries on the roads in the Region.

While many European countries have used intersectoral measures to reduce the number of lives lost, the death rate of low- and middle-income countries is more than double that of high-income countries. Compelling evidence shows that road traffic injuries can be prevented, making the current situation even less acceptable. This evidence has been summarized in the "World report on road traffic injury prevention" and in "Preventing road traffic injury: a public health perspective for Europe".

Young people at risk

Young people are at higher risk of death, injury and disability on the road. In people aged 5-29 years, road traffic injuries are the main cause of deaths, wiping away over 30 000 lives a year. This was reported in a policy briefing "Youth and road safety in Europe" which was published for the First United Nations Global Road Safety Week in 2007. The Second United Nations Global Road Safety Week was held in 2013 and the focus was on pedestrian safety, with an emphasis on protecting children and others vulnerable to collision with vehicles.

WHO/Europe's action

WHO/Europe’s activities aim to help ensure road safety and prevent road traffic injuries by collating evidence on health effects and prevention measures, identifying risk factors and promoting policy action and evidence based interventions.  This seeks to actively support countries in achieving the goals of the Decade of Action on Road Safety, which is to reduce the unnecessary deaths and disabilities on the roads. To provide a baseline for the Decade, data has been collated for the "European facts and Global status report on road safety 2013".

WHO also promotes new thinking about road safety in Europe that builds safety into transports’ system, and supports the improvement of implementation mechanisms and tools to achieve road safety.