Think Driving In Chicago Is Dangerous? Look At Motor Vehicle Accidents In Developing Countries.

Developing Countries and DrivingWith more than 120 fatal traffic accidents every year, one might think that driving in Chicago can be hazardous to your health. The number of fatal accidents may appear high and the amount of Chicagoans that complain about dings and scratches on their vehicle are far more numerous. However, if we consider that Chicago has more than 2.5 million residents who all commute on many of the same roads during the same time of the day, that figure begins to make sense.

However, when we look at the developing world, it is quick to see that our rules and regulations are certainly safer than in many developing countries. In fact, estimates from a recent Global Burden of Disease study put fatal traffic accidents as the fifth leading cause of death in the world by 2030. This would mean that traffic accidents would kill more people than tuberculosis, malaria, HIV/AIDS, and many other diseases that receive a lot more attention.

More about the victims of road-accidents

The victims of these fatal traffic accidents in developing countries tend to adhere to a specific profile as well – they are male, they are young, and they are poor. In Nigeria there are 140 fatal traffic accidents every day, the toll in Indonesia is 120 fatal accidents daily. As motorized vehicles become widely available and increasingly necessary for these developing economies, it seems that these countries are dealing with many of the same issues that the United States and Europe dealt with decades ago.

No real action undertaken to improve road safety

In fact, 90 percent of the traffic fatalities are attributed to poorer countries, this despite the fact that these countries only make up for about 50 percent of the world’s road traffic. Despite the fact that the U.N. General Assembly did adopt a resolution titled the “Decade of Action for Road Safety,” funding for road safety does not appear to be a priority.

In fact, while donors have given upwards of $24 billion to combat tuberculosis, malaria, HIV/AIDS, the funding for road safety is ‘very far below’ that number. Part of the problem may be the fact that spending money to increase road safety does not come with the same social reverence that is saved for combatting deadly diseases.

Many traffic injuries and accidents preventable

Of course the health, social, and economic losses because of road traffic injuries are preventable. In fact, experience from Chicago and Illinois itself shows that with an accurate assessment of road safety and providing laws to combat injury, it is possible to reduce road traffic injuries.

There are a number of identifiable factors that increase the risk of traffic-related injuries, these include vehicles that lack safety features, vehicles that are not properly maintained, poorly designed or insufficiently maintained road infrastructure, drinking and driving, non-use of seat belts and child restraints, and excess and inappropriate speed. Many countries already have shown dramatic decreases in road crashes by addressing those particular risk factors.