Intended for healthcare professionals


War on the roads

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 11 May 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:1107

The public health community must intervene

  1. Ian Roberts (, professor of epidemiology and public health,
  2. Dinesh Mohan, Henry Ford professor for transportation safety,
  3. Kamran Abbasi, assistant editor
  1. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT
  2. Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi 110 016, India
  3. BMJ

    The last thing the world needs is another war. Nevertheless, this week the BMJ exposes one more—the war on the world's roads. But to what extent can the global road trauma epidemic be likened to war?

    War is often waged by the powerful on the weak. In this case, the interests of pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable road users are pitted against the powers that stand to profit from increasing global motorisation. And there are many millions of casualties. Every day about 3000 people die and 30 000 people are seriously injured on the world's roads.1 In this issue Nantulya and Reich point out that over 85% of the deaths and 90% of disability adjusted life years lost from road traffic injuries are in low and middle income countries, with pedestrians, cyclists, and bus passengers bearing most of the burden.2 Most of the victims will never own a car, and many are children. Even in the high income countries, poor children are at greatest risk. The existence …

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