If humanity wants some quick wins, a good place to start would be road accidents. Traffic killed 1.24 million people in 2010, says the World Health Organisation. That’s about double the toll of homicides and armed conflict combined. Yet we could save many of these lives quite easily. Our failure to do so is in part a simple failure of imagination.
“Road traffic injuries have been neglected from the global health agenda”‰.”‰.”‰.”‰despite being predictable and largely preventable,” says the WHO. Car crashes aren’t considered news precisely because they are routine, remarks the Dutch writer Joris Luyendijk. He says that although road accidents are “the biggest bloodbath in the Arab world”, media instead focus on the much smaller bloodbath of terrorism.
Terrorists killed nearly 18,000 people worldwide in 2013, says the Institute for Economics and Peace. That’s 1.5 per cent of the number killed by traffic. Of course, terrorism might one day escalate to apocalyptic proportions, but then pundits have been predicting that since 2001. Meanwhile, with ever more cars sold, roads will soon probably kill more people than either Aids or tuberculosis.