The organization Global Burden of Disease (GBD) estimates that 220,000 children and adolescents are killed on roads around the world every year. In developed countries the level of motorization is greater and people are invested in road safety, for example, using the seat belt, wearing helmets on motorcycles or controlling alcohol consumption behind the wheel. However, in countries with fewer resources, while the number of vehicles is lower, so are the resources allocated to road safety.
This is evidenced by data on road deaths: Sub-Saharan Africa is the region of the world with the highest rate of deaths by traffic accidents of children under 19 even though there are fewer vehicles, according to a study from the Fia Foundation and Unicef. It is followed by Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Caucasus and Central Asia, North Africa, East Asia, West Asia, developed regions and Oceania.
The proportion of deaths in middle and low income countries is often double or triple that of the OECD, according to the report, which warns that immediate action must be taken since the estimates indicate that in 2030 the world population will have increased by 15 percent, but this increase, in developing countries such as Nigeria, may reach 50 percent. "Demographic changes, combined with rapid motorization and low safety levels, should encourage an urgent response," warns the report.
Acting now is not just important to prevent injuries, deaths and pain-broken families. It is also vital for the economic burden on health systems and for the families themselves because family resources in these economies often rely on a single person which, in case of death, makes the survival of the family difficult. The immediate consequence is that this money is not allocated to education, for example.
The cost of traffic injuries ranges between 1 percent and 5 percent of the GDP, depending on the country. In the 80 poorest countries, the cost of serious and fatal injuries reaches 220 billion dollars a year, estimates the report.
It is clear that road accidents and poverty are strongly linked. This is one more reason to fight it. This is the only way that a group as vulnerable as children be able to grow up in an environment safe from their leading cause of death.