Shifting Out of Neutral: A New Approach to Global Road Safety
Kevin M. McDonald
VW Credit, Inc.
Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 38, p. 743, 2005
The next time you get into a car, consider this: each year, over 1.2 million people die in traffic crashes (more than 3,200 each day). By the time you finish reading this article (assuming it takes you about thirty minutes), more than 270 people will die on roads somewhere throughout the world. That equates to more than two people every minute. In the United States alone, traffic crashes killed 42,643 people and crippled or injured 2.89 million in 2003. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for Americans age 2 and every age 4 through 33.
Throughout the world, sales of cars and trucks continue to grow. Compared to other countries, Asian countries are projected to experience the greatest growth in the number of vehicles for the near future. By 2010, China's vehicle market will likely overtake Japan as the second largest in the world; by 2025, it could well overtake the United States as the largest.
The urbanization of the developing world is only one part in the complex issue of global road safety. Another part is developing effective solutions. To date, solutions have been offered from a diverse variety of academics, statisticians, physicians, public safety experts, and economists.
This article seeks to contribute to this ongoing interdisciplinary debate from the perspective of an international lawyer. Part I describes generally the problem of global road safety by providing a statistical overview and brief explanation of the chief factors associated with crashes. Part II analyzes the response of the United Nations to the problem by discussing harmonization efforts and applicable resolutions of the General Assembly. Part III offers insight into the workings of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and recommends that, as an important first step, countries create a single government agency that would function much as does the NHTSA.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 47
Keywords: United Nations, World Health Organization, World Bank, global road safety, harmonization, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Vehicle Safety Act, recalls
JEL Classification: I18, K33, K32, K23, L62Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: November 22, 2004
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