A report from the World Health Organization says that 1.3 million people are killed and between 20 and 50 million injured on roads world-wide every year.
About half of those are not in cars, but are considered 'vulnerable' road users - pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.
The problem is disproportionally worse in low-income or developing countries. The study points out that many of these countries do not have laws mandating seat belt or motorcycle helmet use, or effective enforcement of impaired driving laws.
This aspect of the report will come as no surprise to Professor John Adams of the University of London, an expert on risk analysis. Professor Adams has long maintained that the only factor which correlates to traffic casualties in a given country is how long that country has been motorized.
You'd think that the laws mentioned above would have an impact - without question, Canada showed a dramatic drop in traffic deaths when we implemented (and effectively enforced) seat belt legislation in 1976.
Prof. Adams suggests that it is not the laws themselves but the fact that society has come to grips with the fact that it is a big enough problem to require the legislation.
I can't imagine any country attempting to do a double-blind statistical study on whether or not this is true.
With the world getting all excited over a relative handful of deaths from various influenza strains, maybe this report will help us focus on what really matters.
Meanwhile, always wear your seat belt.
To view the entire WHO report, visit: