Quick: which is the most dangerous country in the world for road-related fatalities?
The answer, at least officially, is the Dominican Republic, with an astounding annual death rate on the roads of 41.7 people killed for every 100,000 population.
For purposes of comparison, consider Canada, which has a corresponding rate of 6.8. That is pretty good, substantially better than the on-road performance of our neighbours immediately to the south (11.4) but not as impressive as the annual road-related death rate in the United Kingdom (3.7) or the level recorded in that perennial haven of probity, good sense, and safe driving, Sweden (3.0).
These and other figures, along with much more information about the dangers of this planet’s roads, can now be perused online, part of a project by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
It’s a sobering picture of a lethal and worsening threat.
Each year, more than 1.2 million humans lose their lives in road-related accidents, and that toll seems set to triple in the next two decades, with the worst effects being suffered in the developing world. By 2030, collisions and other highway mishaps will likely constitute the fifth largest cause of death in poor countries, the project says, worse than HIV/AIDS, malaria, or tuberculosis.
Called “Roads Kill,” the online project includes lengthy articles about diverse perils related to roads and to our species’ unfortunate penchant for careless and often lethal mistakes. An interactive map can be found here.
Among countries with the world’s most dangerous roads, few places are more lethal than Nigeria (33.7 annual deaths per 100,000 population), where more than 50,000 people lose their lives in road accidents each year. Even so, the Federal Road Safety Commission “only recently” required that aspiring drivers be required to take a test before acquiring a license. Before that, anyone who wanted a license could have one. All you had to do was pay.
Oakland Ross is a foreign affairs reporter for the Toronto Star.