Road fatalities declining: International Transport Forum

The number of road fatalities fell by 1.7 per cent between 2011 and 2012 in the 31 countries covered by the International Road Traffic and Accident Database (IRTAD).

The International Transport Forum, in Leipzig, Germany, hears road fatalities have been on the decline.

The announcement was made by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development or OECD in its 2014 Road Safety Annual Report on Wednesday morning as part of the three-day International Transport Forum in Leipzig, Germany.

José Viegas, Secretary General of the International Transport Forum at the OECD, said road safety policies are not succeeding in improving protection for vulnerable road users, however.

“The latest available data show that reductions in road deaths among pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists have levelled off since 2009/10. In some cases, increases have been recorded.”

The increased number of cyclists has been accompanied by a slowing of the decreasing rate of deadly crashes by cyclists registered in previous years, and in some cases by an increase, he added.

Viegas said fatalities among car occupants were reduced by 50% between 2000 and 2012, whereas decreases were only 34% for pedestrians, 31% for cyclists and 17% for motorcyclists.

“The share of fatalities among elderly road users is slowly increasing in many IRTAD countries. This reflects the changing age structure of populations,” he said, noting that the share of fatalities in the age group 65+ for the first time exceeded 30% for European IRTAD counties in 2012. “In Japan this share has been even higher for some time; it is now at around 55%.”

Viegas said the overall, road safety policies in countries covered by the International Road Traffic Accidents Database or IRTAD database have been a huge success.

“Between 2000 and 2012, the annual death toll has fallen by nearly 40% or 45 000 fewer deaths per year when compared with 2000 level.”

According to the Road Safety Annual Report 2014, five European countries achieved a historic first by reducing their annual road fatalities per 100 000 population (mortality rate) to three or less in 2012. “These are Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Iceland.”

While the most recent data overall confirms the downward trend in road deaths, and some countries have achieved historic successes, IRTAD recorded the lowest average reduction rate in ten years, Viegas added.

“Such a moderate success will be insufficient to contribute substantially to the UN road safety target of halting the global increase in the number of traffic fatalities and reversing the trend. Currently, 1.3 million people die on the world’s roads each year, mostly in emerging economies. Forecasts expect the global figure to rise to nearly 2 million in 2020 if no strong action is taken.”

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