Traffic-related injury prevention interventions for low-income countries
Traffic-related injuries have become a major public health concern worldwide. However, unlike developed or highincome countries (HICs), many developing or low-income countries (LICs) have made very little progress towards addressing this problem. Lack of the progress in LICs is attributable, in part, to their economic situation in terms of their governments' lack of resources to invest in traffic safety, cultural beliefs regarding the fatalism of injuries, competing health problems particularly with the emergence of HIV/AIDS, distinctive traffic mixes comprising a substantial number of vulnerable road users for whom less research has been done, low literacy rates precluding motorists to read and understand road signs, and peculiar political situations occasionally predominated by dictatorship and non-democratic governments. How then can LICs tackle the challenge of traffic safety from the experiences of HICs without reinventing the wheel? This paper reviews selected interventions and strategies that have been developed to counter trafficrelated injuries in HICs in terms of their effectiveness and their applicability to LICs. Proven and promising interventions or strategies such as seat belt and helmet use, legislation and enforcement of seat belt use, sidewalks, roadway barriers, selected traffic-calming designs (e.g., speed ramps/bumps), pedestrian crossing signs combined with clearly marked crosswalks, and public education and behavior modification targeted at motorists are all feasible and useable in LICs as evidenced by data from many LICs. While numerous traffic-related injury policy interventions and strategies developed largely in HICs are potentially transferable to LICs, it is important to consider country-specific factors such as costs, feasibility, sustainability, and barriers, all of which must be factored into the assessment of effectiveness in specific LIC settings. Almost all interventions and strategies that have been proven effective in HICs will need to be evaluated in LICs and particular attention paid to the effectiveness of enforcement measures. It behooves LIC governments, however, to ensure that only standard, approved safety devices like helmets are imported into their countries. Additionally, LICs may need to improvise and innovate in the traffic safety technology transfer.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2003-04-01