Annals of Health Law
MAKING A POSITIVE IMPACT
Pillar 2 ( i.e., Safer Roads and Mobility) will measure “the number of
countries where road authorities have a statutory responsibility to improve
The biennial Global Status Report on Road Safety (“Global Status
Report”) is the monitoring tool for the Global Plan of Action.104 The 2013
Global Status Report indicated that only 89 countries covering 66% of the
world’s population had comprehensive “drink–driving” laws with the desired
blood alcohol limit of 0.05, 90 countries covering only 77% of the world’s
population had a comprehensive helmet-wearing law, and 111 countries
covering only 69% of the world’s population had seat belt laws that applied
to all occupants.105 Even within the United States, seat belt laws106 and
motorcycle helmet laws vary widely across jurisdictions.107 It is also critical
to note that the mere existence of these laws does not guarantee compliance
and enforcement. Indeed, the Global Status Report indicated in many
instances that enforcement was weak, non-existent, or varied widely within
and across jurisdictions of a single country.108
While evidence of the effectiveness of the implementation and
enforcement of these types of laws in reducing road crashes, death, and injury
is overwhelming,109 legislation remains contentious, as it is often perceived
by those subject to it as an infringement on civil liberties. The recent repeal
of the comprehensive motorcycle-helmet-wearing law in the state of
Michigan in the United States is a case in point, and yet other states within
the United States have reenacted comprehensive laws under the weight of
dramatically increased deaths and associated costs to the health system.110
Even within Victoria, Australia, at a time of a soaring number of deaths, there
were critics of the proposed seat belt law111 and also of the blood alcohol
law.112 For instance, as described in a The Age editorial, the alcohol industry
resisted any such blood alcohol law by citing alcohol as a factor in only 2.2%
103. Id. at 21-22.
104. See WHO GLOBAL STATUS REPORT 2013, supra note 2, at vii.
105. Id. at 16, 18, 23.
106. David J. Houston & Liliard E. Richardson, Safety Belt Use and the Switch to Primary
Enforcement 1991-2003, 96 AM. J. PUB. HEALTH 1949 (2006).
107. Harold Weiss et al., Youth Motorcycle-Related Brain Injury by State Helmet Law
Type: United States 2005–2007, 126 PAEDIATRICS 1149, 1149-55 (2010).
108. See, e.g., WHO GLOBAL STATUS REPORT 2013, supra note 2, at 37.
109. WHO WORLD REPORT, supra note 17.
110. See Allison J. Derrick & Lee D. Faucher, Motorcycle Helmets and Rider Safety: A
Legislative Crisis, 30 J. OF PUB. HEALTH POLICY 226, 226-42 (2009) (for a review of issues
pertaining to motorcycle helmet laws and civil liberties).