Cars kill more people in Latin America than crime and violence

Henriette Jacobsen, TheCostaRicaNews.com

Traffic accidents kill more people in Latin America than crime and violence and are now widely reported as the region’s top concern, according to a World Bank report.

traffic in san jose costa rica
Typical traffic in downtown San Jose, Costa Rica. Photo: ahrenw.

The average number of homicides in Latin America – 20 per 100,000 – is lower than the average of people killed in car accidents every year. The region’s road safety record is the worst in the world. Overall there are over 130,000 fatalities and more than 6 million people seriously injured every year following car crashes.

The worst part is that most of those deaths and injuries afflict mostly the young in the 5-14 age bracket, becoming the leading cause of productive years lost and a burden for future generations,” said Pamela Cox, World Bank’s regional vice president, in a press release.

Cox also noted that behind each of the numbers is a family losing hope about a better future and children that will need to fight harder to get access to opportunities because of their disabilities.

Partly to blame for the situation is urban sprawl with its inherent lack of infrastructure, like safe transportation, for its dwellers. Latin America is one of the world’s most urbanized regions, and in spite of recent progress, nearly 40% of urban residents live in poverty with little access to social and economic opportunities.

Help is on its way

The international community is hoping to improve the safety record on the road, not just in Latin America, but all around the world before the decade is over. The UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011 aims to cut in half the number of road deaths by 2020. For Latin America that would equal a total of 325,000 lives saved. Globally, five million people would not find a premature death due to the world’s unsafe roads.

We face this challenge with the growing evidence of international good will and financial support with the benefit of an expanding set of policies and procedures based on successful practices,” the World Bank’s regional vice president said.

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