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To support the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030, iRAP has published a new Safety Insights Explorer. The Explorer shines a light on the true extent of road trauma, the safety of the world’s roads, and the positive impact that can be made with targeted investment.

The iRAP Road Safety Explorer is an update to what was previously known as “Vaccines for Roads” tool, and includes new iRAP Star Rating and key performance metrics, new estimates of the types of road crash injuries that occur in each country that can be split by age group and sex, and new regional filters, including for UNICEF regions and Road Safety Observatory regions.

Shining a light on road trauma numbers

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 3,600 people are killed in road crashes every day, and it is estimated that more than 100,000 people suffer injuries every day.

Apart from the emotional impact of serious crashes, the cost of emergency response, trauma wards and long-term health care for road crash injury victims is immense. Transport Accident Commission (TAC) claim data shows that more than half of all costs occur more than two years after a crash, buried deep within health and social welfare systems.

However, there is a significant gap in evidence and data about road crash injuries and their costs worldwide. To help support debate about the right scale of response to this enormous level of trauma and cost, iRAP has drawn on data from the WHO, TAC, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to make simple, high-level estimates of the types of injuries that we expect are occurring in every country around the world, and their costs.

Examples of key estimates of road crash trauma include:

  • Each year, 1.32 million people are killed; 3.5 million people are likely to suffer life-changing brain injuries; 80,000 people suffer paralysis; 160,000 lose limbs or are moderately or severely burned; 10,000 lose their vision and 9.5 million people fracture bones.
  • Road deaths and injuries are estimated to cost more than USD 2 trillion globally each year. Almost two thirds – is associated with non-fatal injuries.
  • Every day, an estimated 16,300 people aged 19 years or younger are killed or injured, many suffering often debilitating injuries such as brain injury, fractures, quadriplegia and internal injuries.
  • Deaths and injuries for people aged 19 years or younger cost an estimated $717 million each day, severe brain injuries alone costing an estimated $192 million every day.
  • More than three-quarters of those killed in road crashes are male. It is estimated that road crashes involving males cost the global economy more than $1.7 trillion each year, and nearly a third of this cost (28%) is borne for crashes involving young men aged 15-29 years.

Greg Smith, Global Programme Director at iRAP said “Road deaths, while tragic, are just the tip of the iceberg. Every day, tens of thousands of people suffer what are often life-changing injuries like severe brain injury, quadriplegia, fractures, internal injuries and burns every day in road crashes.

“The Safety Insights Explorer shines a light on the enormous level of trauma that women, men, girls and boys suffer every day, and serves as an inspiration to do more and invest more in efforts to improve road safety.”

How safe are our roads?

The Safety Insights Explorer also helps to explain why road crashes remain a leading cause of death and injury worldwide. It allows data that has been collected using the iRAP methodology by partners across more than 500,000km of roads in 84 countries to be explored.

The data shows that most roads are rated in the higher-risk 1- or 2-star categories. While almost half of the total travel vehicle travel is 3-stars or better, the percentages are much lower for more vulnerable motorcyclists, pedestrians and bicyclists. iRAP Star Ratings reflect the risk as it relates to an individual road user. 1-Star roads have the highest risk and 5-Star roads the lowest risk.

  • 17% of pedestrian travel occurs on roads rated 3-stars or better.
  • 23% of bicyclist travel occurs on roads rated 3-stars or better.
  • 28% of motorcyclist travel occurs on roads rated 3-stars or better.
  • 49% of vehicle occupant travel occurs on roads rated 3-stars or better.

The data for infrastructure key performance indicators, which underpin the Star Ratings, reveal that there is significant need for improvement in facilities that reduce the risk of death and injury:

  • 7% of roads where pedestrians are present and speeds are 40km/h or more have formal sidewalks.
  • 8% of roads where bicyclists are present and speeds are 40km/h or more have bicycle facilities.
  • Less than 1% of roads where motorcyclists are present and speeds are 60km/h or more have motorcycle facilities.
  • 24% of roads where speeds are 80km/h or more are divided.
  • 29% of intersections where speeds are 60km/h or more have protected turning facilities.
  • 23% of roads where speeds are 80km/h or more have do not have hazardous roadsides.

The data also highlights the large gap that exists between low income and high-income countries. For example, while more than half (51%) of travel occurs on roads rated 3-stars or better for pedestrians in urban areas in high-income countries, the corresponding number is only 29% in low-income countries.

Greg said “Road infrastructure safety treatments are like vaccines for roads; when applied consistently they can eradicate death and injury. Proven treatments such as traffic calming, safety barriers, bicycle paths, pedestrian sidewalks and crossings can have a profound effect on the safety of a road environment.

“The data in the Safety Insights Explorer points clearly to the enormous opportunity we have to save lives and prevent injuries with proven and effective speed management and infrastructure improvements.”

Investing for impact

The Global Plan for the Decade of Action aims to halve road deaths and injuries and Global Road Safety Performance Target 4 is that all road designs and 75% travel on existing roads are rated 3-stars or better for everyone.

To help support debate about the case for investment in safe speeds and infrastructure, the Safety Insights Explorer includes ‘business cases’ for investing to achieve the Global Road Safety Performance Target 4.

The business cases show that:

  • If every country achieved the Global Plan targets for safer roads, more than 450,000 lives would be saved every year – over 1,200 lives saved a day.
  • Investments of just 0.1-0.2% GDP per year through to 2030 will unlock this incredible outcome with $8 of benefits for every $1 invested.
  • Benefits would be highest in low- and middle-income countries, where trauma rates are highest.

Greg said “Governments, development banks, donors and the private sector each have a role to play in mobilising the sustainable investment needed to eradicate serious road trauma, unlocking far-reaching economic, financial and social benefits.

“There are few better investments than in safer roads and safe speeds. Yet investment does not yet match the scale of this preventable public health crisis. Currently, only $1-3 is invested in road trauma prevention for every $100 of crash-related costs.”

About the Safety Insights Explorer

The iRAP Safety Insights Explorer updates what was previously known as the Vaccines for Roads iRAP Big Data Tool. The Explorer enables people to interact with the data and filter by country, region (e.g. WHO, UNICEF, Road Safety Observatory and EU) and country income level, injury victim age and sex, Land Use type, Rural/Urban area type, Vehicle Flow and Carriageway type.

The iRAP Safety Insights Explorer has been produced by the global road safety charity, International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP), with the support of the Australian Transport Accident Commission and FIA Foundation.

As new data becomes available, such as in updates to the Global Status Report for Road Safety, the iRAP Safety Insights Explorer will be updated.

To explore the tool, visit

For media enquiries, please contact:

Judy Williams, Global Programme and Communications Manager, iRAP
Email (based Brisbane)

About iRAP

iRAP is a registered charity with the vision for a world free of high-risk roads. The charity is active in over 100 countries and works with governments, development banks, mobility clubs, industry, research organisations and road safety NGOs to provide them with the free methodology, tools, systems and training and support to make their roads safer. iRAP’s Star Rating Methodology provides a simple and objective measure of the level of safety which is ‘built-in’ to the road for vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians. A 1-star road is the least safe and a 5-star road is the safest. iRAP and its partners have influenced the safety of over USD$96 billion dollars of infrastructure investment, has Star Rated over 1.4 million kms kilometres of roads and designs, plus 1,028 schools, Risk Mapped over 1.6 million kilometres, and trained nearly 60,000 people globally. iRAP is the umbrella programme for regional road assessment programmes including EuroRAP, ChinaRAP, AusRAP, usRAP, KiwiRAP, IndiaRAP, BrazilRAP, South Africa RAP, ThaiRAP, TanRAP and MyRAP and is financially supported by the FIA Foundation, Global Road Safety Facility and FedEx. 

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The International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) is a Registered Charity with UN ECOSOC Consultative Status.
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