World report on road traffic injury prevention, summary

  • Published: World Health Organization (WHO), 2004
  • Authors: World Health Organization (WHO)
  • Date Added: 05 Mar 2013
  • Last Update: 05 Mar 2013
  • Format: pdf


The report has three aims.

  • To create greater levels of awareness, commitment and informed decision-making at all levels – government, industry, international agencies and nongovernmental organizations – so that strategies scientifically proven to be effective in preventing road injuries can be implemented. Any effective response to the global challenge of reducing road traffic casualties will require all these levels to mobilize great effort.

  • To contribute to a change in thinking about the nature of the problem of road traffic injuries and what constitutes successful prevention. The perception that road traffic injury is the price to be paid for achieving mobility and economic development needs to be replaced by a more holistic idea that emphasizes prevention through action at all levels of the road traffic system.

  • To help strengthen institutions and to create effective partnerships to deliver safer road traffic systems. Such partnerships should exist horizontally between different sectors of government and vertically between different levels of government, as well as between governments and nongovernmental organizations. At the government level, this means establishing close collaboration between sectors, including public health, transport, finance, law enforcement and other sectors concerned.


Compilation of good practice.

Key Findings:

  • Road traffic injuries are a huge public health and development problem, killing almost 1.2 million people a year and injuring or disabling between 20 million and 50 million more. Both WHO and World Bank data show that, without appropriate action, these injuries will rise dramatically by the year 2020, particularly in rapidly motorising countries.

  • A recent study comparing the risks of travel in the European Union countries by the four main modes and by different means of road travel found that, compared with a person in a car, a person on a cycle 8 times more likely to be killed.

  • Providing convenient and affordable public transport, by rail and/or bus and coach, can reduce the distance travelled using higher-risk modes. Trip using public transport usually have a walking or cycling component. Although that component may bear relatively high risk, pedestrians and cyclists pose less risk to other road users than do motor vehicles. National transport policy in many high-income countries now encourages the combination of public transport with improved safety of pedestrian and cycling routes.

  • Widespread experience with area-wide road safety management in Europe shows that it can reduce RTIs and injuries by 15 to 80 per cent. The town of Baden, Austria launched a management plan in 1988 that has resulted in about 75 per cent of its road network being restricted to speeds of 20 mph or less and an integrated system of public transport with pedestrian and cycle routes. The rate of road casualties has declined by 60 per cent.

  • A study in the Netherlands found that 30 per cent of cycle RTIs occur at night or in twilight and could be avoided if cycle lights were used.


Reduction in cyclist casualties, segregated cycle tracks.


Provides one example of a reduction in cyclist casualties.