Amongst OECD countries in 1989, there were large variations between countries regarding road safety. For instance, deaths per 10 million vehicles are in a ratio of 1 to 4 (Sweden 2,087 vs Portugal 8.616) and deaths per 100 million motor vehicle kilometres in a ration of 1 to 7 (Great Britain 13 vs Spain 88). Portugal had the highest death rate per 100,000 population and Norway the lowest (31.5 compared with 9.0). Specific factors such as population density, condition of the road network, topography, climate, local style of driving explain part of such differences but another part stems from differences in the seriousness with which individual countries treat road accidents.
Road traffic accidents are no longer the monopoly of rich countries. India, with fewer than five million motor vehicles, has 40,000 traffic fatalities a year. In Eastern Europe, increases in road accidents were one of the first consequences of the liberalization: in some countries, within a few months the fatality rate increased to a level comparable to countries with a car ownership ten times higher. In Poland it was estimated that for every 100 accidents in 1996, 11 people were killed, compared with 1.5 deaths for every 100 accidents in the UK.
2. Vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists account for 30-35% of deaths. The severity of accidents among pedestrians is almost twice as high as that in car occupants.
3. Teenage driving accidents are not necessarily related to risk taking. The commonest group to have sleep car accidents are teenagers. Getting up early for school and going to bed late may be producing sleep deprivation.