Child and adolescent injuries

Road traffic injuries and drowning are leading causes of death among children and adolescents worldwide.

Trucks and other traffic on the dirt road to Ribaue, Mozambique.

Death and injury due to road traffic accidents and drowning are on the rise worldwide. Today, more people die from road traffic injuries than from HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis or diarrhoeal diseases. For children and young people between the ages of 5 and 29, road traffic injuries represent the leading cause of death.

Drowning is another top killer, ranking among the ten leading causes of death for children and young people in every region of the world. More than 40 people lose their lives to drowning every hour of every day, with children under 5 years old disproportionately at risk. Boys are twice as likely to drown as girls.

These deaths are largely preventable. Yet, despite the alarming statistics, road and water safety for children and adolescents is often overlooked in public health policies.

Children practice swimming in Bangladesh.
UNICEF/UN0286434/Centre for Injury Prevention and Research, Bangladesh
Drowning is the leading cause of death among Bangladeshi children, causing over one third of all child deaths from injury. UNICEF supports the provision of swimming lessons through the SwimSafe programme in Bangladesh.

UNICEF’s response

Preventing road traffic fatalities and drowning demands concerted efforts across sectors, including health, education and child protection. Communication initiatives that educate children, families and communities about risks are also imperative.  

UNICEF works with Governments and partners worldwide to support, develop and monitor integrated child injury–prevention programmes. Our efforts improve data collection and analysis and strengthen the capacity of Governments and communities to keep children out of harm’s way. 


United Nations Road Safety Collaboration

Learn more about this consultative mechanism among UN agencies and other international partners for facilitating international cooperation on road safety.

World Health Organization’s Global Report on Drowning, 2014

This report highlights drowning prevention strategies and makes recommendations for concrete measures to be taken by national and local governments.

World Health Organization’s Global Status Report on Road Safety, 2018

This report calls for drastic action to put road safety measures in place to save lives.