Status Report on Road Safety in Countries of the WHO African Region

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In 2007, over 234 700 people were estimated to have died on roads in the African Region, most of them aged between 5 and 44 years. This constitutes one fifth (20%) of all the road deaths in that year worldwide, yet the Region has only 2% of the world’s vehicles. Pedestrians, users of two- or three-wheelers, and passengers using public transportation were at increased risk of death or severe injuries following road traffic crashes. These deaths and injuries result in family and community devastation, and add to impoverishment in a region already affected by other serious health challenges and entrenched poverty.

This status report on road safety in the WHO African Region, a companion of the Global status report on road safety, reviews the use of tested tools and interventions which were recommended in the World report on road traffic injury prevention (2004). It shows that while the African Region remains the least motorized region in the world, motorized two-wheelers are rapidly gaining importance as a means of travel, emphasizing the changing vulnerabilities of road users and the need to plan appropriately in order to address the needs and challenges concerning this category of road users.

This report therefore reiterates the importance of road traffic injuries as a health and development problem requiring urgent attention. It emphasizes the importance of a multisectoral approach to road safety working to implement national road safety strategies. It highlights the need to plan for the safety of all road users, and not merely that of occupants of motor vehicles, as has been the case in many countries in the Region. Countries are urged to use the lessons contained in this Report in order to halt and reverse the escalation of road deaths and injuries, and to reduce their negative impact on communities and countries.