If you are afraid of being killed by a thug on the street, do not worry. Well, not quite. Data shows that it is more likely to die in traffic accidents than by murder or cancer in Brazil. Traffic fatalities are an epidemic, claiming the lives of 1.24 million people per year - equivalent to over three thousand Boeing 747 aircraft crashes, making it the ninth leading cause of death in the world. But if we consider the total amount of injuries from traffic fatalities, the numbers rise to 50 million.
The new generation is also being victimized by it. Recent research presented at a congress of pediatrics reported that Brazilian children die from traffic accidents more often than from disease. The research said that 22,000- 100,000 youths, ages 5-14, die in Brazilian traffic accidents every year.
The World Health Organization presented the global database of road safety and found that among the main risk factors are speeding, drinking and driving, and a lack of adequate road infrastructure. Even as they rise, traffic fatalities do not seem to have gained the attention deserved by public policies, though progress is being made.
A new initiative called the Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011-2020) is focused on effective actions, which may change these circumstances in the long run. According to the UN, several interventions that are suggested by the initiative are greatly needed. Among them is the qualification of road space in order to make it safer and even tolerate human error better. Also, the oversight of the use of safety equipment, the reduction of permitted driving speeds, and improved care for victims are all part of the suggested interventions.
Investing in sustainable urban mobility, with priority given to BRT systems and public transportation, for example, is a fundamental part of the life-saving process. Luis Antonio Lindau, CEO of EMBARQ Brazil, comments on this in an article, which points out that the use of public transport decreased 25% in the last 15 years, while fleets of individual motorized vehicles grew along with fatalities, traffic congestion and increased pollution.
The adoption of sustainable modes of transportation including prioritizing pedestrians, cyclists and users of public transportation will make Brazilian cities safer and more livable. The CityFix Brazil highlights good examples from around the world of new trends and information that can inspire future improvements.
What policies does your city have to reduce traffic fatalities?
Original article, originally published in Portuguese, here.
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.