Road crashes now "leading killer" of children and young people, WHO warns

The WHO chief says the rising number of road deaths is "an unacceptable price to pay for mobility"

Road crashes now "leading killer" of children and young people, WHO warns

File photo. Picture by: Frank Duenzl/DPA/PA Images

Road traffic injuries are now the leading cause of death among children and young people, the World Health Organisation has said.

Latest figures from the organisation show there are around 1.35 million road traffic deaths around the world every year.

While there has been an increase in the number of deaths overall, the rates of death relative to the world's population have 'stablised' in recent years.

According to the 'Global status report on road safety 2018', the risk of death in a road traffic incident is three times higher in low-income countries than it is in high-income countries.

Road death rates are highest in Africa at 26.6 per 100,000 population, compared to the lowest rate in Europe at 9.3 per 100,000 population.

The report notes that road traffic injuries are now the "leading killer of children and young people aged 5-29 years".

Pedestrians and cyclists account for 26% of all road traffic deaths, while motorbike riders and passengers account for 28%.

However, the figures vary significantly when broken down to different parts of the world - such as pedestrians and cyclists accounting for 44% of the road deaths in Africa.

WHO officials are now calling for road safety to receive more attention in all parts of the world.

WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “These deaths are an unacceptable price to pay for mobility.

"There is no excuse for inaction. 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.”