Special Report

Countries With the Most Dangerous Roads

The latest Global Status Report from the World Health Organization, released in December 2018, showed that about 1.3 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes around the world. About 93% of the world’s fatalities on the road occur in low- and middle-income nations, according to the report. 

To determine the countries with the most traffic deaths, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on traffic fatalities by country in 2019, using the World Health Organization data repository. Countries were ranked by per-capita traffic fatalities. Data on the estimated number of traffic deaths also came from the WHO. We used the two figures to calculate country populations.

Road injuries are the seventh-leading cause of death in low-income countries. The WHO identified the leading risk factors as speeding; driving under the influence of alcohol and psychoactive substances; nonuse of helmets, seat belts, and child restraints; distracted driving such as cell-phone use; unsafe road infrastructure; unsound vehicles; inadequate care after an accident; and no enforcement of traffic laws. (These are the states where drunk driving causes the most accidents.)

Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among children and young adults aged 5-29 years, according to WHO. About three-quarters of all road traffic deaths occur among males under the age of 25. More than half of all road traffic fatalities are among the most vulnerable road users – pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. (These are the best and worst states for teen drivers.)

Of the 50 countries with the highest road traffic fatalities per capita, 41 are in Africa. Six nations in Asia are also among the 50 countries on the list. Eleven of the 50 countries recorded annual traffic fatalities of 10,000 people or more in 2019. Among the countries on the list, road traffic deaths per capita range from 24 per 100,000 people to nearly 65 per 100,000.

Ethiopia, the most populous nation on the list with more than 111 million people, had the highest number of road traffic deaths in 2019, at 31,564, but ranked 35th in road traffic deaths per capita, with 28 per 100,000. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, with a population of nearly 87 million people, was the only other country on the list with road traffic deaths of more than 30,000 in 2019. With nearly 35 road traffic deaths per 100,000 people, the DRC ranks 10th by this measure.

Vietnam had the highest number of annual road traffic deaths of any Asian country with 29,475, though it was not the deadliest with 30.6 road traffic deaths per 100,000 people. Thailand, with a population of almost 70 million, was the deadliest nation in Asia, recording 32.2 road traffic deaths per 100,000.

Click here to see countries with the most dangerous roads

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