A new analysis that includes 74 studies conducted in 185 countries estimates that targeting four major risk factors for road injuries and deaths (speeding, drink driving, non-use of crash helmets and non-use of seat belts) could prevent between 25% and 40% of all fatal road injuries worldwide every year.
The analysis published in a recent issue of journal Nature found that routinely wearing helmets and seat belts, obeying speed limits and avoiding driving drunk could save between 347,000 and 540,000 lives globally annually.
The analysis reveals that an estimated 121,083 and 51,698 lives could be saved by legislating and enforcing rules on wearing seat belts and motorcycle helmets, respectively.
The study suggests that the benefits of more motorcyclists wearing helmets would be the biggest in China, where 13,703 lives could be saved every year, followed by Brazil (5,802 lives), and India (5,683 lives).
Interventions to reduce speeding such as infrastructure changes and electronic speed control could save an estimated 347,258 lives globally each year, while measures to tackle drunk driving such as enhanced drink driving enforcement could save a further 16,304 lives, according to the study.
Improving seat belt use would have a particularly large effect on reducing road deaths in the US (saving an estimated 14,121 lives every year) and China (13,228). Tackling speeding would be the single most effective measure to reduce road fatalities in most countries, preventing an estimated 88,374 deaths in China, 1,027 in Spain, and 815 in the UK.
The Lancet Series on road safety, published ahead of the first ever UN High-Level Meeting on Road Safety, called for increased political and financial commitments, and for road safety to be included in mainstream development policies. M