Road accidents 'biggest teen killer'

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Road traffic accidents rather than disease and violence are the biggest cause of death for young people aged between ten and 24 across the world, a new report has found.

Entitled Youth and Road Safety, the World Health Organisation's (WHO) study says that nearly 400,000 young people under the age of 25 are killed in road traffic crashes every year and millions more are left injured or disabled.

It comes ahead of the first United Nations global road safety week from April 23rd.

Young males are more at risk than females in every age group under the age of 25 while those from the poorest backgrounds are at greatest risk in every country.

Most deaths and injuries occur in low and middle income countries, particularly in Africa and the Middle East.

The vast majority of the accidents, the report claims, are both predictable and preventable.

"The lack of safety on our roads has become an important obstacle to health and development," said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO director-general.

"Our children and young adults are among the most vulnerable. Road traffic crashes are not 'accidents'. We need to challenge the notion that they are unavoidable and make room for a pro-active, preventive approach. "

Youth and Road Safety outlines examples in countries where road crashes involving young people have been reduced through lowering speed limits; targeting drink-driving; promoting and enforcing the use of seatbelts, child restraints and motorcycle helmets; and creating better road infrastructure and safe areas for children to play in.

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