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A thousand young people aged 10 to 24 die on the world’s roads everyday, and thousands more are injured, making it a top policy priority of the United Nations.

Almost 12 million serious injuries and 2 million deaths among young people in some of the world’s poorest countries could be averted with proven road safety investments, according to new economic modelling from Victoria University.

The Victoria Institute of Strategic Economic Studies (VISES) study, commissioned by the international charity, FIA Foundation, examined how introducing safety interventions such as bike and motorcycle helmets, better road design, drink-driving laws, and vehicle safety standards could prevent death and serious injury to young people in 77 low- to middle-income countries.

It found that returns on these road safety investments – measured by the added economic and social contributions and productivity of those whose lives are saved and serious injuries avoided – could lead to significant benefit-cost ratios (BCR). BCR is an indicator that compares the value of benefits delivered from the interventions relative to the costs to implement them. 

The modelling showed a BCR of at least three-fold across the 77 countries, and in some nations, such as Comoros,  Burkina Faso, Bangladesh, and Nepal, around fifty-fold returns.

Road safety a top UN priority

A thousand young people aged 10 to 24 die on the world’s roads everyday, and thousands more are injured, making it a top policy priority of the United Nations. The UN has set the year 2030 as its target to halve the number of global road traffic deaths and serious road injuries.

The VISES study focused on three case studies with projections up to 2030: Colombia, which has made significant progress on road safety in recent years; Tanzania, where the majority of fatalities are  pedestrians; and Vietnam, with its very high level of motorcycles.

It examined road accidents by age, gender and vehicle type, then estimated the cost of introducing proven effective interventions, before estimating the economic and social benefits that would arise from the reductions and assigning a BCR for each country.

Lead author Dr John Symons said the report showed the huge potential for road safety investment to save lives of young people while generating very large economic returns on investment. 

The study, conducted with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, was recently launched at a FIA Foundation Forum ahead of a first-ever UN High Level Meeting on road safety and reducing road deaths.

Read the full report:
Development of the Investment Case to Reduce Road Traffic Injuries Among Adolescents.

Dr John Symons and Dr Kim Sweeny are available for interview.