Van stopped in front of a fallen motorbike in VietnamExperienced travelers know that taking to the local roadways can be one of the most dangerous passages on an international itinerary. Whether in a taxi or a bus, or as a cyclist or a pedestrian, travelers roll the dice with their health and safety. Now the World Health Organization (WHO) has released a comprehensive study of road hazards across 178 countries that documents the risks in detail.

It turns out that 85% of the world’s countries lack adequate laws to address the growing problem of traffic deaths and injuries. In a New York Times story on the subject, WHO’s Dr. Etienne Krug notes anecdotal evidence that in some hospitals and surgical wards in the developing world, almost half of the surgery beds are occupied by victims of road traffic crashes.

The report is a trove of data that the Healthy Travel Blog will mine for insights. For starters, we sampled the data to get an idea of the range of risk around the world. The table below shows a country-specific Road Hazard Index based on the number of traffic fatalities per 1,000 registered vehicles. Based on this preliminary analysis of fifteen countries, you are 78 times more likely to die on the roadways in Uganda than in Japan. It’s less dramatic but nevertheless intriguing to compare risks in Southeast Asia (Viet Nam) to those in the Andes (Ecuador) where the risk is threefold higher. How much hazard is posed by terrain rather than traffic laws, driving habits or road engineering and maintenance? What’s your experience?

Road Hazard index chart


About The Author

Michael Hartung, editor of Healthy Travel Blog, serves as head of Product Development at HTH Worldwide. Mike is responsible for all product strategy and development for the company. Mike has over twenty years of successful product innovation to his credit. He has played a senior management role in three start-up companies and has built complex organizations in rapid growth environments. Prior to joining HTH in 2000, he served as President of U.S. Healthcare’s Workers Comp Advantage subsidiary, which he co-founded with Angelo Masciantonio. Mike has also served in senior roles at Aon Consulting, Vantage Health Partners and Managed Health Care Services. Mike earned an M.B.A. from New York University, an M.A. from Duke University and a B.A. from Carleton College.


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