Road safety in low-income countries: State of knowledge and future directions

Shahram Heydari, Adrian Hickford, Rich McIlroy, Jeff Turner, Abdulgafoor M. Bachani

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Road safety in low-income countries (LICs) remains a major concern. Given the expected increase in traffic exposure due to the relatively rapid motorisation of transport in LICs, it is imperative to better understand the underlying mechanisms of road safety. This in turn will allow for planning cost-effective road safety improvement programs in a timely manner. With the general aim of improving road safety in LICs, this paper discusses the state of knowledge and proposes a number of future research directions developed from literature reviews and expert elicitation. Our study takes a holistic approach based on the Safe Systems framework and the framework for the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety. We focused mostly on examining the problem from traffic engineering and safety policy standpoints, but also touched upon other sectors, including public health and social sciences. We identified ten focus areas relating to (i) under-reporting; (ii) global best practices; (iii) vulnerable groups; (iv) disabilities; (v) road crash costing; (vi) vehicle safety; (vii) proactive approaches; (viii) data challenges; (ix) social/behavioural aspects; and (x) capacity building. Based on our findings, future research ought to focus on improvement of data systems, understanding the impact of and addressing non-fatal injuries, improving estimates on the economic burden, implementation research to scale up programs and transfer learnings, as well as capacity development. Our recommendations, which relate to both empirical and methodological frontiers, would lead to noteworthy improvements in the way road safety data collection and research is conducted in the context of LICs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6249
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


  • Best practices
  • Capacity building
  • Crash data
  • Injury severity
  • Low-income countries
  • Road crash costing
  • Road safety
  • Under-reporting
  • Vulnerable groups

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Road safety in low-income countries: State of knowledge and future directions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this