GENEVA, Switzerland, Friday June 28, 2013 – Two Caribbean countries have accelerated onto the World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of the most deadly in the world for drivers.
One of them, the Dominican Republic, has earned the dubious distinction of placing at the top of the heap as the most dangerous country in the world to get behind the wheel of a vehicle.
The other, Venezuela, isn’t far behind in the deadliest in the world rankings, which also include Thailand, Iran, Nigeria, South Africa, Iraq, Guinea-Bissau, Oman and Chad.
The Dominican Republic has a fatality rate for drivers at a whopping 41.7 per hundred thousand people, which translates into one in every 2,398 dying every year in an automotive accident. Dominicans as a whole have a one in 480 chance of having their lives taken by some form of misadventure involving an automobile.
The lax helmet, drunk driving and maximum occupant laws all contribute to the Spanish-speaking country’s deadly driver distinction, with about 58 percent of automotive deaths involving drivers or passengers of two-wheeled vehicles, like motorcycles, according to the WHO.
Further south, with a fatality rate of 37.2 per 100,000, Venezuela has become so notorious for its poor driving conditions that the US State Department has issued a driving warning on its website for visitors to the country.
“While in Venezuela, US citizens will encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States,” says the warning. “Driving regulations in Venezuela are similar to those in the United States, although many drivers do not obey them.”
Potholes, aggressive taxis, motorcycles weaving through traffic, wandering livestock and poorly lit roads are said to be among the threats facing drivers in Venezuela.
The Americas, including the United States and Canada, fared better overall than most of the rest of the world in terms of automotive fatalities. The region averaged 16.1 deaths per 100,000 compared to the 24.1 per 100,000 in Africa and 21.3 in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Europe emerged as the safest region of all in the WHO report, with only 10.3 deaths per 100,000.