Commentary: Status of road safety in Asia
Journal article, 2016
Assess the status of road safety in Asia and present accident and injury prevention strategies based on global road safety improvement experiences. Discuss the way forward by indicating opportunities and countermeasures that could be implemented to achieve a new level of safety in Asia. Methods: Review and analyses of data in the literature, among others from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and World Bank and review of lessons learned from best practices in high-income countries. Estimation of costs due to road transport injuries in Asia and review of future trends in road transport. Results: Data on the Global and Asian road safety problem and status of prevention strategies in Asia as well as recommendations for future actions. The total number of deaths due to road accidents in the 24 Asian countries, encompassing 56% of the total world population, is 750.000 per year (statistics 2010). The total number of injuries are more than 50 million, of which 12% are hospital admissions. The loss to the economy in the 24 Asian countries is estimated to around 800 billion US$ or 3.6% of GDP. Conclusions: This paper clearly shows that road safety is causing large problems and costs in Asia with an enormous impact on the well-being of people, economy and productivity. In many of the Asian low- and middle-income countries the yearly number of fatalities and injuries is still further increasing. Vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists and motor cyclist combined) are particularly at risk. Road safety in Asia should be given rightful attention, including taking powerful, effective actions. This review stresses the need for reliable accident data, since there is a large underreporting in the official statistics. Reliable accident data are imperative to determine evidence based intervention strategies and monitor the success of these interventions and analyses. On the other hand, lack of good high quality accident data should not be an excuse to postpone interventions. There are many opportunities for evidence-based transport safety improvements, including measures concerning the five key risk factors: speed, drunk–driving, not wearing motorcycle helmets, not wearing seat-belts and not using child restraints in cars, as specified in the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011–2020. In this commentary, a number of new additional measures are proposed which are not covered in the Decade of Action Plan. These new measures include separate roads or lanes for pedestrians and cyclists, helmet wearing for e-bike riders, special attention to elderly persons in public transportation, introduction of emerging collision avoidance technologies in particular automatic emergency braking (AEB) and alcohol locks, improved truck safety focussing on the other road user (including blind spot detection technology, under-ride protection at the front, rear and side and energy absorbing fronts) and improvement of motorcycle safety concerning protective clothing, requirements for advanced braking systems, improved visibility of motorcycles by using day-time running lights and better guard rails.