More than 2.5 million people will die each year on world roads as the automobile becomes one of the leading causes of global death by 2020.
Car deaths are already closing on the top 10 list and will reach No.3 on current predictions, as most other forms of avoidable deaths (apart from war) fall during the coming decade.
The road toll is rising because more people are coming into the age of the automobile, particularly in China and India.
And Australia is not immune to the carnage.
A battle against the road toll is under way here. Lauchlan McIntosh, head of the Australian New-Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) that rates the safety of new cars, is helping to lead the fight.
“People don't have to die,” he says. “Everyone thinks it's someone else's problem, but it's not. We all have a part. Safety is about a complete picture. It's not about one issue over another.”
McIntosh has trumpeted the ANCAP results from crash-barrier tests for more than 10 years and has two new developments we are reporting today.
But it's not enough. He wants whoever is prime minister at the end of the year to make a national commitment to a program covering everything from driver education to road improvements and safer cars.
“We already know what to do in road safety,” McIntosh says. “Research shows we need a national systems approach, we need to stop blaming others and encourage all in the system to work.
“Research shows the majority of deaths and injuries occur because the road infrastructure is unsafe. The next major cause is the inability of the cars to provide effective protection.
“We know there are the criminals who drive and break the law resulting in many crashes, but we also know many crashes are caused by inexperienced drivers making simple mistakes. The resulting deaths and injuries are unnecessary.”
McIntosh is well known in Canberra and wants the Federal Government to take the lead instead of leaving a hit-and-miss strategy to individual state governments. He is not optimistic, but won't give up. Expect to hear more from him in coming months.
Five people die and another 60 are seriously injured every day on Australian roads