It comes as a no-shocker that road accidents continue to be a major cause of deaths and injuries globally. As per World Bank, an estimated 1.25 million lives are lost on world road’s along with 20 to 50 million people are seriously injured each year.
According to the latest findings of a report by World Bank, it is estimated that globally there is a need to address road accidents, not only for its economic benefit but for building human capital – a key priority for the World Bank.
The report estimates that by road accident deaths and injuries by half could add 7 to 22 percent to GDP per capita over 24 years in select countries. This would roughly translate to welfare benefits equivalent to 6 to 32 percent of GDP per capita, which could be realised over the same period.
It says that road traffic injuries continue to be the single largest cause of mortality and long-term disability among people aged between 15-29 the prime working age group.
The tragic loss of lives and injury due to the road accidents is compounded by the harm to households and social networks. It estimates a disproportionate 90 percent of road traffic injuries (RTIs) occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), representing a major public health and economic burden. This is an eminently preventable problem that is critical to the development agenda.
The new World Bank report funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, ‘The High Toll of Traffic Injuries: Unacceptable and Preventable’, looks to asses the impact of road injuries on economic growth and social welfare.
The analysis based on data collected from 135 countries over 24 years, focuses on China, India, the Philippines, Tanzania, and Thailand—five geographically, demographically and economically diverse LMICs.
The study found that reducing the number of RTIs in developing countries not only increases income growth, but also generates substantial welfare benefits to societies.
- Reducing the number of RTIs leads to long-term national income growth.
- Significant long-term income growth—7 to 22 percent increase in GDP per capita over 24 years—can be achieved by halving road traffic deaths and injuries, in line with the current UN targets.
- GDP is an imperfect measure of social welfare, as it does not factor health benefits. The study finds welfare benefits equivalent to 6 to 32 percent of the national GDP can be realised from reducing road deaths and injuries by 50 percent over 24 years.
- By maximising healthy years of life, free of injuries and disabilities, actions to reduce road traffic injuries can help countries increase productivity, enhance the well-being of their populations, and build human capital—a key developmental priority for the World Bank.
- Road safety goes beyond the transport sector, with a direct impact on public health, societies, and economies. Likewise, because road safety is an inherently cross-sectoral issue, real progress can only happen if all relevant stakeholders unite their efforts.