A map of the countries with the most dangerous roads

Data source: World Health Organization
Data source: World Health Organization

Based on a comprehensive World Health Organization report that measures road safety by the number of motor vehicle-related deaths per 100,000 people, the answer is the Dominican Republic.

The Caribbean island nation (it shares the island of Hispanolia with Haiti) reports a staggering 41.7 driving deaths per 100,000 people per year. That means that, in any given year, a Dominican person has a one in 2,398 chance of being killed by a car. That’s not so bad until you extrapolate out by 70 years and find that, over a lifetime, a Dominican’s odds of dying in a car-related accident are one in 480. The WHO report notes that the Dominican Republic has weak helmet and speed laws and even weaker drunk driving laws. More than half of driving related deaths, 58 percent, are of occupants or drivers of two- or three-wheeled vehicles. In other words, motorcycles.

The next 10 most dangerous countries for driving, in descending order, are: Thailand, Venezuela, Iran, Nigeria, South Africa, Iraq, Guinea-Bissau, Oman and Chad. Those countries are marked in dark red on the above map, which visualizes the full WHO data set of road traffic deaths, the statistics for which are estimates based on reported deaths and other factors. The safest countries are in light yellow.

The safest roads tend to be in northern Europe. Iceland is the very safest with only 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 people annually, followed closely by Sweden and then the Palestinian territories, where freedom of movement can be tightly restricted by the Israeli occupation.

The next safest countries are, in descending order: Britain, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland. Denmark, Germany, Ireland and Israel are all tied for eighth-safest.

The WHO report explains that these success stories came not just through safer driving or tougher drunk-driving laws but major government intervention, including “implementation of a number of proven measures that address not only the safety of the road user, but also vehicle safety, the road environment and post-crash care.” Medical care, both in terms of its quality and the physical nearness of hospitals, seems to play a major role in the number of driving-related deaths.

Source: Max Fisher, Washington Post.


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