Doctors have commented that while infectious disease is decreasing around the world, they are witnessing a greater number of deaths from injury, with motor vehicle crashes being one of the major causes. In the U.S, the total number of deaths due to road accidents has declined with the advent of seat belts laws, air bags, safer cars and crackdowns on driving while intoxicated – either through alcohol or narcotics. Despite this, experts claim traffic accidents still affect teenagers more than any other group because young, new and inexperienced drivers are the ones who are most at risk.
According to figures published by the World Health Organisation in their Youth and Road Safety report, the problem of road safety is far worse in poorer countries. In 2002, for example, out of the 380,000 young people who died in traffic accidents, more than half of them were in Africa and Southeast Asia. The report also found that 1.2 million people of all ages are killed each year in road accidents.
In the United States, two out of five deaths among American teens come as a result of motor vehicle crashes, according to the U.S Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 5000 American teenagers aged 16-19 died of injuries sustained in road accidents in 2002, with that particular age group almost four times more likely of being involved in a traffic accident than older drivers Belt and Road Initiative.
In addition to death and injury, road accidents in low income and middle income countries have a pronounced economic effect, with several countries spending between $65billion and $100billion annually. These costs include loss of income and the burden placed on families to care for their injured relative. A large factor in the high number of road accidents in these less developed countries is the poor quality of the roads themselves, with cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians also in considerable danger due to the roads not having ample space for all the vehicles that travel them.
Solutions to the problem of road traffic accidents disproportionately affecting younger people have been voiced by the CDC. They suggest that young people should be taught about road safety at an early age as a priority, as well as initiatives such as graduated licensing programs, where teen driving is restricted to certain times of the day. It has also been recommended that parents establish driving rules with their teenage children, encouraging them to drive safely as well as warning them about the dangers of irresponsible driving.
Disclaimer: Matthew Pressman writes for a wide variety of commercial clients. This article is intended for information purposes only and readers should seek additional information before taking any actions based on its content.