Developing Economies Can Strengthen Themselves By Reducing Road Accidents, Says World Bank Report
- The World Bank report focused on road accidents and developing economies
- 90 per cent of global road accident deaths happen in developing countries
- Sweden and Netherlands are countries with lowest death rate in accidents
New Delhi: For developing economies, traffic fatalities ought to be treated as public health hazard, as not only do they cause deaths but also hold back economic growth. The findings were reported jointly by the World Resources Institute and World Bank and were published in the form of a report on January 11, 2018. The study, titled ‘The High Toll of Traffic Injuries: Unacceptable and Preventable,’ was the first of its kind undertaken to understand the impact of road accidents in developing economies, which account for 90 per cent of 1.25 million annual traffic deaths.
The report states that similar to diseases such as malaria or polio, road accidents can have a negative impact on a country’s economy as fatalities from road accidents, especially for poor and semi-poor families can result in death or deaths of earning individuals and thereby cuts off major contribution to a country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The report also stated that prevention of road accidents was not dependent only on drivers and their abilities, but also on how much governments invest in better infrastructure for roads, road safety awareness programmes and better training systems for drivers. The report said that these ‘’safe systems’’ approach can reduce road accidents and related deaths.
Stressing on developments of better roads in countries like India, Tanzania and Philippines, which witness high number of traffic deaths annually, can lead to significant economic development. As a part of preparing the report, the World Bank gathered data from countries with both low and high rate of road accident deaths. Research concluded that in countries like Sweden and Netherlands, which adopted comprehensive safe systems in management of roads and traffic, road accident related deaths accounted for 3 to 4 per 1,00,000 of the national population. Compared to that, the number of deaths per 1,00,000 people in developing economies like India, Bangladesh and Sub-Saharan countries were between 25 to 30.
Pedestrians, especially poor people between the age group of 15 to 29 are the most vulnerable when it comes to road accidents. It is the absence of safe systems, ranging from well-conditioned roads to proper traffic management, which results in such deaths. India alone registers 2,00,000 deaths per year due to road accidents, said Dipan Bose, Transportation Expert, Global Road Safety Specialist.
In 2016, World Bank undertook a study which focused on five countries, namely China, India, Thailand, Philippines and Tanzania. Results of the study showed that all the countries would benefit tremendously in terms of economic development, if they managed to halve the number of deaths caused due to road accidents. India’s national income would rise by 9 per cent if it could manage to halve its death rate by road accidents.
“These are the kinds of economic growth governments cannot ignore and hence should immediately work towards improving road conditions. Road accidents are preventable with proper planning and availability of infrastructure and that is the message governments should give out,” said Mr Bose.
Halving global deaths by 2030 due to road accidents is a United Nations Sustainable Development Goal. The World Bank report points an important factor in global deaths due to road accidents, that of how infrastructural improvement can make a big difference in lessening road accident deaths. The goal for developing economies should now be to take a renewed look at traffic deaths and work towards gradually reducing these deaths, to improve economic development.