The World Health Organisation have released international data which shows that the biggest killer of teenagers across the world is road traffic accidents.
Road traffic accidents caused more deaths amongst teenagers than respiratory infections, self harm, diarrhoeal diseases and drowning.
Fatal road traffic accidents
The report provides the shocking statistic that in 2015 more than 1.2 million adolescents died, and roughly 10% of these fatalities were caused by road traffic injuries. Most of the fatal road traffic accidents involved males.
As might be expected intuitively the report shows it is vulnerable road users who are most at risk of being involved in a fatal road traffic accident. Young people on bikes and motorbikes, or on foot are most at risk.
The UK Experience
It is the case that the risk of a teenager being killed in a road traffic accident is greatest in poorer countries, it is still a fact that road injuries remain the largest cause of death in high income countries – it is just that the numbers are smaller.
In 2015, 145 people aged 10-19 were killed in road accidents in Britain, and 3,166 were seriously injured. The high numbers in this group can at least in part be explained by greater independent mobility – for example it is often the age when young people start to walk to school on their own and later on can drive motorbikes and cars legally.
Reducing death on our roads
The author of the WHO report does consider that in the UK the legislation controlling driving and road safety education are having some effect in reducing accident numbers. However, given the above statistics, it is clear we still have a long way to go.
Philip Edwards, a Road Traffic Accident expert with Clarke Willmott said:-
We live in an age of ever increasing safety features on cars, and better education about road safety, but the WHO figures show there is no room for complacency here, or around the world. There are some laudable initiatives, like Project EDWARD (European Day Without a Road Death) where the goal is to take steps towards eradicating the tragedy of so many lives being lost, but all of us who use the roads need to be part of making that happen”