Road Traffic Injuries in Iran and their Prevention, A Worrying Picture
Traffic accidents on Iran’s roads cause thousands of deaths and injuries every year, and cost the country’s economy billions of dollars. UNICEF, together with Iran’s Ministry of Health, State Welfare Organisation, police forces, and the Municipality of Tehran, has begun an awareness-raising campaign to shed more light on these facts and to contribute to reducing the mortality and injury rates caused by road accidents. Some of the key statistics of which any traffic participant in Iran should be aware are:
Ø The rate of road accidents in Iran is twenty times more than the world’s average.
Ø Globally, road traffics accidents kill 1.2 million people every year and leave 20-50 million people injured and disabled.
Ø In Iran, among all unintentional fatal injuries inflicted on children under five, traffic-related fatalities are the leading cause of death.
Ø Each year, road traffic crashes kill nearly 28,000 people in Iran, and injure or disable 300,000 more.
Ø Every 19 minutes one person dies on Iran’s roads, and every two minutes people will hear that one of their family members has survived a crash but with serious injury and perhaps lifelong disability.
Ø Traffic fatalities cost Iran’s economy six billion US dollar every year, which amounts to more than five per cent of the country’s Gross National Product.
Ø Some 25 per cent of all road fatalities in Iran are those involving motorcycles; over 60 per cent of those occur because the drivers did not wear a helmet and incurred head traumas.
Ø 90% of road traffic deaths in the world occur in low-income and middle-income countries.
Ø By the year 2020, road crashes will rank ahead of cancer and behind only heart disease and depression in terms of life-years lost.
Ø Globally, Road traffic injuries are the second leading cause of death for young people aged 5–25 years.
Ø Road traffic crashes are predictable and can be prevented. Many countries have achieved sharp reductions in the number of crashes and the frequency and severity of traffic-related injuries by addressing key issues. Interventions that have been proven to be effective include those that deal with:
Ø Speeding: Speed is a main factor contributing to road traffic injuries in most countries. Young men in particular are likely to drive at excessive or inappropriate speeds. Reducing the average traffic speed by 1 km/h has been shown to lead to a 4%–5% decrease in fatal crashes.
Ø Seat-belts: Seat-belts have saved more lives than any other road safety intervention in the event of a crash. Young male drivers have been found to use seat-belts less frequently than other groups. Seat-belts can reduce the risk of all injuries by 40%–50%, and of fatal injuries by 40%–60%.
Ø Child restraints: Child restraints, such as infant and child seats and booster seats, have been shown to be highly effective at preventing fatalities among both infants and young children travelling in cars. Child restraints reduce the death rates in car crashes by 71% among infants and by 54% among young children.
Ø Helmets: Wearing a helmet is the single most effective way of reducing head injuries and fatalities resulting from motorcycle, moped and bicycle crashes. Young men are less likely to wear helmets while riding motorcycles. Motorcycle helmets have been shown to reduce the risk and severity of head injury by about 70%.
Ø Road design and infrastructure: Measures to improve road design and infrastructure include: separating different types of traffic; providing safer routes for pedestrians and cyclists; building pavements and recognizable crossing structures for pedestrians; and reducing traffic speeds by constructing speed bumps, rumble strips and roundabouts.
Ø Emergency services: Many road crash victims die before they reach a hospital because of inadequate emergency services, including medical, fire and police services. Improving the emergency services from the crash scene to the health facility and beyond will increase the chances of those involved in road traffic crashes surviving, and avoiding long-lasting disabilities and injuries.