According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), an estimated 1.35 million people die in road accidents around the world each year. The United Nations General Assembly has set the target of halving this number by 2030.
Car crashes have become the leading cause of death for people aged between 5 and 29 years old. According to the WHO, more than half of all road traffic deaths are of pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.
As this chart shows, road safety (or lack of) is a global issue. But in some places, road deaths are more likely than others, with as many as nine in ten road traffic deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries. According to the WHO this is partly a result of "rising incomes in many developing countries having led to rapid motorization, while road safety management and regulations have not kept pace.”
Of 183 countries and territories analyzed in the WHO database, the Caribbean island nation of the Dominican Republic had by far the most deaths per capita in 2019, when the most recent data was analyzed, at 64.6 per 100,000 inhabitants. It is followed by Zimbabwe (41 deaths per 100,000) and Venezuela (39 deaths per 100,000). Although not fully illustrated here, Africa is the world region with the highest death rates, with 15 out of the top 20 countries listed as the most fatal countries worldwide for road deaths.
The United States comes in rank 110 with approximately 13 people killed from road accidents per 100,000 population in 2019. Compared to several other countries, the U.S. has a fairly high rate of road accident fatalities through alcohol - at 31 percent in 2016, versus only 9 percent in Germany. This is significantly worse than many countries in Europe, the world region with the lowest death rates.
The WHO’s Road Safety Week runs from November 19-25, 2023.