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Global road toll now more than one million -

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Global road toll now more than one million

The World Today - Thursday, 18 June , 2009 12:46:00

Reporter: Jennifer Macey

PETER CAVE: 1.2 million people lose their lives in road crashes around the world every year. The
World Health Organization has just released the first global report on road safety and has found
that most deaths happen in poor countries. The report also found that half of all fatalities and
injuries are pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

Australia ranks as one of the safest countries in the world but that experts are worried that
Indigenous people are over-represented in the road toll and injury statistics.

Jennifer Macey reports.

JENNIFER MACEY: The WHO's global status report on road safety shows that 90 per cent of 1.2-million
people that die each year in crashes are in developing countries.

PAUL BARACH: The main message is that there is a lot more work to be done. There is a clear
disproportion of the number of people being injured and killed in low-income countries.

JENNIFER MACEY: Professor Paul Barach is from the Injury Risk Management Research Centre at the
University of New South Wales. He says Australia has one of the lowest fatality rates in the world.

PAUL BARACH: And the last year has seen a dramatic drop across Australia thanks to the policies
around legislation, seat belts, drunk driving, speed enforcement, penalties, using demerit points
and perhaps the most important thing, which is constant vigilance to the dangers of the road by
feeding this data back to the public as well as back to the law enforcement agencies.

JENNIFER MACEY: The WHO estimates that road injuries and fatalities cost $646-billion a year

Associate Professor Rebecca Ivers is the Director of the Injury Division at the George Institute
for International Health at the University of Sydney.

REBECCA IVERS: In low- and middle-income countries which really bear most of the burden of road
traffic injuries, that is equivalent to about 1 to 3 per cent of GDP in these countries which is
more than they actually receive in development assistance. So that just gives you some kind of idea
of the context.

JENNIFER MACEY: She says Australia could easily export its successful road safety strategies to the
Asia-Pacific region.

REBECCA IVERS: We have just recently published a report of a study that we did in Guangzhou where
we worked with the central Chinese Government and WHO in China and that was an enforcement and
social marketing campaign, a city-wide in one of the megacities in southern China and in that we
successfully showed that you could do that.

JENNIFER MACEY: But Professor Ivers says while Australia's road toll has been dropping the
statistics are still disproportionately made up of Indigenous people.

REBECCA IVERS: There is a very high proportion of Indigenous people who are killed both as
pedestrians and also as passengers in vehicles and that is to do with overloading of vehicles.

We know that if you actually want to reduce crashes, you need to have good public transport, to
have good road systems and Aboriginal people tend to live in places where we don't have that.

JENNIFER MACEY: The WHO report also says the most vulnerable road users are pedestrians, cyclists
and motorbike riders who account for more than half of all road fatalities.

Professor Paul Barach says they shouldn't be on the roads.

PAUL BARACH: I think at all times pedestrians should be separated from road transportation either
by under-passages, over-passages or just blocking off areas to the road because pedestrians are
very vulnerable in that sense.

JENNIFER MACEY: What about cyclists?

PAUL BARACH: I think it is clear that non-motorised cyclists such as scooters and bikes and others
are uniquely vulnerable and they absolutely should not be on the same road with cars unless they
have separate lanes and separate signage and separate passageways that are respected by vehicles.

JENNIFER MACEY: But Rosemarie Speidel from the Cycling Promotion Fund disagrees. She says while
there's an urgent need for more bike-only lanes she says there's safety in numbers.

ROSEMARIE SPEIDEL: If you have more people riding bicycles that improves safety because the
motorists are more likely to be aware to expect to see a bicycle rider and the countries which have
a high level of cycling but have made a real commitment to improve the safety and have used speed
limits, they actually have much higher safety for the vulnerable road users.

JENNIFER MACEY: She's also calling for speed limits in local neighbourhoods to drop from 50
kilometres per hour to 30 or 40 kilometres per hour.

PETER CAVE: Jennifer Macey with that report.