Friday, April 20, 2007

Road deaths No. 1 killer of the young

Washington Post
Apr. 20, 2007 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON - Traffic injuries are the leading cause of death in people ages 10 to 24 around the world - a huge, overlooked and largely preventable public health problem, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

In a new report, the organization promoted a long list of suggestions to developing countries, where most of the deaths and disabling injuries occur. The improvements include safer roads and vehicles, better urban planning, helmet laws, prosecution of speeders and drunken drivers, better education of the driving and walking public, and simple interventions such as putting reflective tape on backpacks.

"It is a big public health issue for kids, and we can do something about it," said Etienne Krug, a physician who heads WHO's department for injury and violence prevention.

About 30 percent of all traffic deaths worldwide - roughly 400,000 each year - are of people younger than 25. Although teenage and young-adult drivers are at greatest risk, younger age groups also have high mortality. In 2002, traffic injuries were the third leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 9, behind pneumonia and AIDS. About 46 percent of traffic deaths in sub-Saharan Africa occurred in that age group that year.



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