The Connection between Road Safety and Health

The connections between road safety and health are numerous: safe and active forms of mobility keep us fit and healthy, but unsafe, unclean mobility systems have seriously detrimental effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health. The physical damage caused by road crashes is the most obvious connection, but travel on polluted roads has also been demonstrated to cause ill-health and deaths. The mental and emotional effects of being in a crash or our loved ones being impacted in a crash are also debilitating. Our 2020 report The Day Our World Crumbled: the Human Cost of Inaction on Road Safety found that 66% of respondents that had been affected by a crash lived in fear of they or their loved ones being in a crash, 47% avoided places, things, or people associated with a crash, and 43% had experienced depression, hopelessness, flashbacks or other psychological effects.

We asked some experts for their comments on the connections between health and road safety.

“It is the same health system that delivers for both everyday health needs and for emergency preparedness, readiness and response.  Whether care is needed for a child with pneumonia, a pregnant woman with bleeding, or the victim of a respiratory virus or road traffic crash, only an integrated approach to the full ‘ECO’ continuum, ensures that health systems can meet people’s health needs across the life course AND respond effectively to emergency events.” 

Bruce Aylward, WHO Assistant Director-General for Universal Health Coverage (UHC), Life Course.

“Road traffic crashes are a huge health problem. Alliance members have key roles to play in addressing this problem, both through primary prevention (road safety) and through improved care for injured people.”

Charles Mock, University of Washington and Global Alliance for Care for the Injured (GACI)

“The text of the resolution recognizes that the need for rehabilitation is increasing due to the global demographic, but also injuries, in particular caused by road crashes. Indeed, rehabilitation is an integral component of trauma care and finds its place in the  Resolution “Improving global road safety” (A/RES/74/299).”

Valentina Pomatto, Advocacy Manager (Inclusive Development) at Handicap International – Humanity & Inclusion (HI)