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Global Road Traffic Facts Every Public Administrator Should Know

Speeding, unsafe vehicles, and distracted driving are among the key causes of traffic injuries and deaths.

On any given day, 3,712 people worldwide may die of injuries from traffic-related accidents,1 the leading cause of death for children and young adults ages 5–29.2

“These deaths are an unacceptable price to pay for mobility,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), said with the release of the Global Status Report on Road Safety in 2018. “There is no excuse for inaction. This is a problem with proven solutions. This report is a call for governments and partners to take much greater action to implement these measures.”3

WHO’s traffic data is vital in the efforts to create safe traffic conditions abroad and in the United States. Highly trained professionals—many with Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) degrees or PhDs in Public Policy and Administration—may be involved in these efforts in their jobs as government affairs officers, NGO executives, policy analysts, research directors, and city and county managers.

Here are findings from WHO’s 2018 road safety report that public administration professionals should know:2

  • Approximately 1.35 million people die each year because of road traffic crashes.
  • Road traffic crashes cost most countries 3% of their gross domestic product.
  • More than half of all road traffic deaths are among vulnerable road users: pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.
  • 93% of the world's fatalities on the roads occur in low- and middle-income countries, even though these countries have approximately 60% of the world's vehicles.

Tracking Key Causes

While multiple conditions and behaviors cause traffic accidents, WHO identified the following as significant contributing factors:2

  • Speeding: Each 1% increase in mean speed increases the risk of a fatal crash by 4%.
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
  • Not using helmets, seat belts, and child restraints: WHO says correct helmet use can reduce fatal motorcycle injuries by 42% and head injuries by 69%. Using child restraints can reduce deaths by 60%.
  • Unsafe roads and road infrastructure: Providing safe pedestrian crossing zones, cycling lanes, and paths for walkers can help reduce the risk of injury.
  • Unsafe vehicles.
  • Distracted driving: A driver using a cell phone is four times more likely to be involved in an accident than a driver not using a mobile phone. WHO says phones used with hands-free technology aren’t much safer to use than hand-held models.
  • Lack of traffic law enforcement.
  • Inadequate post-crash medical care: Delays of just minutes can mean the difference between life and death.

Interventions Save Lives

Through its work with member countries to improve global traffic safety, WHO says progress is being made, mainly through better legislation around these risk factors:3

  • Speeding.
  • Drinking and driving.
  • Using seat belts, motorcycle helmets, and child restraints.
  • Safer infrastructure like sidewalks and dedicated lanes for cyclists and motorcyclists.
  • Improved vehicle standards such as those that mandate electronic stability control and advanced braking.
  • Enhanced post-crash care.

Become Part of the Solution

An online doctorate in public administration or a PhD in public policy may put you at the center of efforts to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities in your community, state, or country—or the world at large.

Walden University’s PhD in Public Policy and Administration degree program can prepare you to meet the challenges of governance and public service in the United States and around the world. In this online public policy graduate program, you’ll gain a detailed understanding of public policy theory, research, and practice in a global context.

A diverse faculty of scholar-practitioners, all of whom hold doctoral degrees, lead PhD degree candidates through courses with a global perspective. Four academic residencies will support your progress at key points in your educational journey. Residencies enrich your learning experience by bringing you face-to-face with peers, staff, and faculty while gaining skills to prepare you for your dissertation.

If you have a passion for public service, Walden’s online doctorate in public administration program is another excellent option. A DPA degree can prepare you for executive-level leadership roles in government and nonprofit organizations, and private consulting practice.

Walden roots its DPA degree online program in real-world experience and preparation that’s designed to let you hit the ground running as a public service innovator. As you work on your degree, you’ll add immediate value to your current position with in-demand skills such as evidence-based decision-making and data analytics.

With a PhD or doctorate in public administration, you can help build a safer, brighter world by crafting solutions to some of the 21st century’s biggest challenges. Public administration jobs need visionary leaders—just like you.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering PhD in Public Policy and Administration and Doctor of Public Administration degree programs online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,