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Road Deaths Are the New Global Health Crisis

Bring attention to this pandemic: John D. Sutter
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2013 1:49 PM CDT
Road Deaths Are the New Global Health Crisis
   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – It's time we did something about a scary pandemic: road deaths, writes John D. Sutter for CNN. You may not think of such deaths as a global "public health crisis," but that's exactly what they are. We continue to build more roads and put more cars on those roads, and traffic deaths continue to increase, particularly in developing countries. In fact, a new project by the Pulitzer Center finds that road deaths will soon be the developing world's No. 5 killer. These deaths are "symptoms of a disease," and the cure is safer roads, smarter laws, and better enforcement.

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Consider Nigeria, which up until recently didn't require new drivers to pass a test; South Africa, where seatbelt enforcement is dismal; Southeast Asia, where whole families sometimes ride on one motorcycle, often without helmets; or the Dominican Republic, where conditions are so bad that the WHO does not recommend traveling at night. In many countries, police officers are on foot, meaning "you could run a red light or speed with impunity," says a Pulitzer Center editor. The only way to change this is to bring attention to it in the same way attention is paid to HIV/AIDS and malaria. Sutter's suggestion: Tweet about just one road or law you'd like to see changed with the hashtag #roadskill. Click for Sutter's full column. (Read more traffic accident stories.)

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