WHO releases annual global traffic fatality report

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Car accidents in Texas and around the nation claim tens of thousands of lives each year, but the roads in many other countries are even more dangerous according to a study released by the World Health Organization on Dec. 7. The latest Global Status Report on Road Safety reveals that motor vehicle accidents are now the world's eighth most common cause of death and the leading cause of death for children and adults under the age of 30.

The WHO report makes particularly grim reading for those from developing nations. Despite owning just 1 percent of the world's cars, people from low-income countries account for 13 percent of global traffic deaths. These nations also lag behind rich countries at improving road safety. While road deaths fell in 48 high and middle-income countries between 2013 and 2013, they rose or remained constant in all low-income countries.

The data also reveals that the most vulnerable road users die in disproportionately large numbers. Despite car and truck occupants making up the overwhelming majority of road users, more than half of those killed in car accidents each year are cyclists, motorcyclists or pedestrians. According to the WHO, the factors that most often cause road fatalities are intoxication, excessive speed, not using seat belts, not wearing motorcycle helmets and not restraining children in child seats.

Most of those killed in car crashes each year lose their lives because another road user acted negligently. Human error plays a role in virtually all motor vehicle accidents, and those who suffer injury, loss or damage because of the reckless actions of others may pursue remedies in civil court even when law enforcement declines to press charges. This is because civil litigants are not required to prove their cases beyond reasonable doubt. Instead, they must only establish that their allegations are more likely true than not.

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