WHO Director General Margaret Chan has launched a Global Status Report on road safety at an event in New York with mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose philanthropic foundation funded the work. You can access the full report here http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/road_safety_status/2009
Some key findings:
half of those killed on the roads are vulnerable road users (i.e. not in cars or trucks)
only around half of countries have comprehensive laws covering seat belt and helmet use
fewer than 20% of countries rate their own efforts at enforcing these rules as higher than 7/10.
The report includes information from 178 countries (covering 98% of the world's population) and provides a useful baseline from which we could measure progress if we get a Decade of Action. One obvious area for improvement is in data collection. Some of the injury statistics provided by countries for the survey paint a very optimistic picture of their own road safety situations, either by design or through significant failings in their reporting systems. So while WHO's Global Burden of Disease analysis (which models for underreporting) estimates global road deaths at just under 1.3 million, countries self-reported just 660,000 deaths for this survey. That's a big gap.