Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to site content Skip directly to page options
CDC Home

CDC Injury Center: Director's View Blog

The purpose of this blog is to foster public discussion about injury and violence prevention and response and gain perspectives of those we serve.

Share
Compartir

Global Action to Improve Road Safety: Sharing Lessons and Saving Lives

Categories: Motor Vehicle Safety

"...the No. 1 cause of death for healthy U.S. citizens who travel abroad is traffic crashes. They are among the 1.3 million people who die each year on the world’s roads."

...the No. 1 cause of death for healthy U.S. citizens who travel abroad is traffic crashes. They are among the 1.3 million people who die each year on the world’s roads.

I was stuck. Standing on a street corner, I found it impossible to cross to the other side. No crosswalks. No lights to stop the traffic.  With cars, trucks, motorcycles, scooters, bikes, pedestrians, dogs and chickens filling every available space on the road, there simply was not a safe path across.  Getting into a taxi didn’t improve my safety situation. As the driver entered the darting traffic, I reached to buckle the safety belt – and found none. Fighting to steady myself in the careening vehicle, I contemplated getting another cab, but thought it a wiser choice to stay silent as to ensure my driver’s eyes and focus remained on the heaving roadway before us.

After that experience in an otherwise charming Quzhou, China, I’m not surprised that the No. 1 cause of death for healthy U.S. citizens who travel abroad is traffic crashes. They are among the 1.3 million people who die each year on the world’s roads. In his forward for the Commission for Global Road Safety’s Decade of Action Report, Reverend Desmond Tutu wrote, when you “add together the daily toll in each neighborhood or city, each country and region, we can comprehend the true tragedy” represented in that number.  Responding to the alarming rate of road traffic injuries, in March the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution declaring the next ten years the “Decade of Action for Road Safety.” The resolution calls on UN member states to strengthen their commitment to improving road safety and reducing traffic injuries.  

“…when you “add together the daily toll in each neighborhood or city, each country and region, we can comprehend the true tragedy.”
- Reverend Desmond Tutu

CDC helps our partners worldwide by providing technical assistance and training as well as the tools and support to increase awareness of the problem of road traffic injuries. Of course, while we are called to collaborate with our global partners, we remain committed to our motor vehicle safety work here in the United States, where more than 3 million people are treated in emergency departments for crash-related injuries each year and nearly 40,000 die as a result of their injuries.

Sharing and comparing information globally offers us a template on improving safety among our 50 states. Take safety belt use. Nationwide, safety belt use is 84 percent. However, the proportion that chooses to use safety belts varies by state (67% to 98%).

When I chose to stay in the cab without safety belts, I probably made the wrong choice for safety. Of course, where I live, that choice would already have been made; safety belts are required in taxis in the United States. Perhaps the Decade of Action for Road Safety is the time to examine some of the choices we make within our borders. We can reduce injuries and death from traffic crashes and keep people safe on the road, everyday. Let’s choose to fight that battle and win.

Public Comments

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this blog is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

  1. July 30, 2010 at 10:30 am ET  -   Tweets that mention CDC - Blogs - CDC Injury Center: Director’s View Blog - Global Action to Improve Road Safety: Sharing Lessons and Saving Lives -- Topsy.com

    Twitter Trackbacks
    Tweets that mention CDC – Blogs – CDC Injury Center: Director’s View Blog – Global Action to Improve Road Safety: Sharing Lessons and Saving Lives — Topsy.com
    This post was mentioned on Twitter by CDC_eHealth, Tom Lyons, Najeh Ahmad, MD MPH, susheewa, Anjeannette McRob and others. [ read more... ]

    Link to this comment

  2. July 31, 2010 at 3:22 am ET  -   Adnan Hyder

    Excellent summary of key issues facing public health – road safety must become a higher order concern for low and middle income countries. Key to this will not just be US “concern” but actual support and action – and of course funding for global road safety research and action. -
    Adnan Hyder, Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit (www.jhsph.edu/IIRU)

    Link to this comment

    • August 6, 2010 at 7:15 am ET  -   directorsview

      Thank you for your comment. Road safety is indeed a crucial issue that will take a global effort to address.

      Link to this comment

  3. August 2, 2010 at 2:34 pm ET  -   Mike

    1.3 million a year die in crashes. This is an alarming statistic, assuming it will rise with all of the electronic gadgets people are using while driving. Do you think the smart cars that are being engineered will lower the automobile accident death rate? Allowing for more of an auto pilot ride. The crashes need to be addressed and suppressed.

    Link to this comment

    • August 6, 2010 at 7:15 am ET  -   directorsview

      Thank you for your interest in the issue of global road safety. It is difficult to tell what effect new technology will have on road traffic safety. Luckily, there are steps that people can take right now on their own – such as wearing safety belts – that can make an immediate difference.

      Link to this comment

  4. September 16, 2010 at 11:35 am ET  -   touchingsoulsintl

    Excellent work of CDC to help our partners worldwide by providing technical assistance and training as well as the tools and support to increase awareness of road traffic safety. Could help so many lives and so many injuries, so many disabilities, specially in developing countries.

    Link to this comment

  5. October 8, 2010 at 10:34 pm ET  -   carlo

    Great post. Traffic crashes as the no.1 cause of death for expatriates is quite alarming. Great work for CDC to for providing training and support to minimize the problem about traffic accident. Yes awareness to it will certainly help you a lot. Just by wearing seat belts will protect you and your kids.

    Link to this comment

  6. March 24, 2011 at 12:16 pm ET  -   Emily

    Having just had a friend who died in a car crash because she was not wearing a seat belt this issue comes close to home. Most people feel it is something that comes natural to us. You get in a car, you buckle your seat belt. But when we are in situations like a cab we think it’s not as important. Or as my friend thought when she was traveling with too many people in a car & deciding to take turns not wearing a seat belt had a tragic end. I thank the CDC for giving awareness to the importance of wearing your seat belt. I had no idea only 84% nationally wear one & depending on the state between 67%-98% choose to buckle up. Everyone please make the conscious decision to wear one.

    Link to this comment

  7. August 9, 2012 at 12:45 pm ET  -   Caroline

    Years ago my father made the observation that if headlights could TURN to the direction the car was headed, it would save pedestrial lives. Back in those days, having the headlights illuminate the road in the direction of the turn would require something mechanical. These days, with the advances in electronics, lights could be placed around the front corners of cars and, as the wheel is turned, illuminate the area the car is headed. Has your agency thought of funding a study to determining how many injuries are caused by cars hitting pedestrians in poor lighting conditions while turning onto a street and, if that is found to be a significant hazard, another study to see if changing headlight design would greatly reduce these injuries?

    Link to this comment

Post a Comment

We welcome your comments and expect that any comments will be respectful. This is a moderated blog and your comments will be reviewed before they are posted. Read more about our comment policy »

* All fields are required

Name will be visible to all users E-mail is confidential and will remain hidden
You can add a handful of basic html tags to your comment. The commenting function supports the following tags:
<b> <i> <a href=""> <strong> <em> <abbr title=""> <acronym title="">

All comments posted become a part of the public domain, and users are responsible for their comments. This is a moderated blog and your comments will be reviewed before they are posted. Read more about our comment policy »

 
USA.gov: The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Rd. Atlanta, GA 30333, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC–INFO
A-Z Index
  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z
  27. #