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Traffic crashes now the leading cause of death for children, young adults

For the first time in recorded history, more young people die every year from injuries received in traffic accidents than any other cause, the World Health Organization said in a study Friday.

The study of 174 countries examined traffic-related deaths in 2016 for persons between the ages of five and 29. The report said a record 1.35 million of those younger people die on the world's roads every year.

The report noted the rate in Africa is highest in the world, with 26.6 per 100,000 citizens -- compared with 9.3 deaths per 100,000 in Europe, which is the lowest. The average is 18 per 100,000.

Researchers said 1 percent of the world's vehicles are in poorer countries, which account for 13 percent of the reported deaths. Just 7 percent of traffic deaths occur in wealthier countries, which have 40 percent of the world's vehicles.

"Road safety is an issue that does not receive anywhere near the attention it deserves," former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a foreword to the report.

The report said traffic-related deaths are the eighth leading cause for persons of all ages.

Statistics from middle- and high-income countries show a decline in road deaths over the last three years, which the 2018 Global Status on Road Safety attributes to improved speed limit laws, less intoxicated driving and tighter seat-belt laws.

"These deaths are an unacceptable price to pay for mobility," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus. "This is a problem with proven solutions. This report is a call for governments and partners to take much greater action to implement these measures."

The study said 97 percent of the world's population lives in countries with national speed limit laws, but only 46 of these countries meet the recommendations for enforcement. The number meeting drunken driving recommendations have increased tenfold since 2014.

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