Bad driving and poor traffic laws are one of the major risks for expats – and many do not have the right private healthcare policies to deal with road injuries.
Developing countries tend to have the worst road safety records and poorest medical facilities, according to a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
However, many expats do not include medical repatriation in their policies and are sometimes left with a choice of second-rate medical treatment or costly arrangements to fly home in an emergency.
The five top causes of road accidents worldwide are:
- Drink driving
- Not wearing a motorcycle helmet
- Not wearing seat belts
- Failing to fit child restraints in a car
The WHO report explains that one in seven countries fails to have road traffic laws to deal with these hazards and a 1 million people die on the roads worldwide every year.
Profile of crash victims
Three countries with the worst road safety records are Brazil, India and China – which are key destinations for expats as emerging economies.
Governments in countries without comprehensive road safety legislation need to draft new laws quickly to make their roads safer, says the WHO report.
“The only way to make roads safer is to have the political motivation to bring in effective laws and to make sure they are enforced,” said WHO director general Margaret Chan.
“If this does not happen, road accidents will needlessly continue to exact a terrible toll of injuries and deaths. This is something most countries can bring about if they have the will.”
The report has analysed road accident statistics around the world and profiled the most likely victims as:
- Aged between 15 and 44 years old (59%)
- Men (77%)
- Pedestrians and cyclists (27%)
In some countries up to three-quarters of road deaths are pedestrians or cyclists, which, says WHO, shows that road traffic laws favour mechanised transport over people.
Traffic black spots
The highest risk of dying in a road traffic accident is in Africa – at 24.1 per 100,000 people. The lowest is Europe, where the factor is 10.3 per 100,000 people.
This shows traffic victims in Africa are almost 1.5 times as likely to die from their injuries as their counterparts in Europe.
The report also points out that dying as the result of a road traffic accident is the eighth leading cause of death worldwide for people aged 15 to 29 years old.
By 2030, road deaths are likely to become the fifth leading cause of death unless governments take action.