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Results BriefsMarch 25, 2024

A Decade of Saving Lives Through Road Safety Investments

GRSF in Action  |  Credit: Global Road Safety Facility

Over the past decade, the World Bank has supported various partner countries in improving road safety. The Global Road Safety Facility (GRSF), a multi-donor Trust Fund managed by the World Bank, has been instrumental in catalyzing much of the World Bank’s road safety investments. These investments have seen significant results achieved, including providing 65 million people with access to safer roads between mid-2018 and mid-2023; 10,000 kilometers (km) of roads rehabilitated, rebuilt, and rendered safer via GRSF-funded road safety assessments between 2010 and 2019; and thousands of fatalities and injuries prevented.

Key Achievements

  • An estimated 65 million people were provided with access to safer roads between mid-2018 and mid-2023 through World Bank-financed projects.
  • Between 2010 and 2019, 10,000 km of roads built or rehabilitated with World Bank support achieved significant safety gains after incorporating recommendations from GRSF-funded safety assessments.
  • 270 fatalities and serious injuries were prevented in Nepal as a result of crash barriers installed between 2015 and 2017 through the World Bank-supported Road Safety Support Project. Extrapolating the trend, the project could save over 3,400 lives during the lifetime of the investment.
  • Between 2013 and 2022, Iraq recorded a 81 percent reduction in annual road crash fatalities—from a baseline of 113 to an actual value at project closing of 21—along two major traffic corridors due to road safety improvements under the World Bank-financed Transport Corridors Project.
  • Between 2015 and 2021, Tanzania recorded a 79 percent reduction in road traffic fatalities from 33 to 7along the project corridor of the World Bank-financed Dar es Salaam Urban Transport Improvement Project (phase 1).
  •  From 2013 to 2022, Albania recorded 68 fewer annual fatalities on primary and primary-secondary roads—a 23 percent reduction—as a result of the World Bank-financed Results-based Road Maintenance and Safety Project.
  • Nearly 22,000 professionals were trained on road safety between 2015 and 2023. Knowledge imparted in these trainings has been used by local transport officials to perform road safety audits and implement life-saving road safety interventions.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), road traffic crashes killed 1.19 million people worldwide in 2021—more than malaria or HIV/AIDS. Road crashes are the leading cause of death among children and young people between the ages of five and 29, and the twelfth leading cause of death for all age groups. Vulnerable road users—pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists—comprise more than half of global road traffic fatalities. The burden of road crashes is particularly high in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), which account for 92 percent of all road traffic fatalities.

Road crashes are not only a human tragedy and a major public health issue, but also impose high socioeconomic costs, especially on the poor. The total economic costs of road traffic fatalities and injuries in LMICs range between 2-6 percent equivalent of gross domestic product (GDP), according to GRSF estimates.


The World Bank’s approach to improving road safety in LMICs over the decade from mid-2013 to mid-2023 has revolved around three types of interventions.

First, the World Bank has steadily bolstered efforts to ensure that all its supported road projects improve safety, such as through the introduction of traffic calming measures and pedestrian crossings on busy urban roads, and the installation of crash barriers and speed cameras on inter-urban highways. Beginning in 2018, the World Bank included road safety in its Environmental and Social Framework to ensure that all World Bank-financed road projects meet or exceed safety standards, which was a first among Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs). In 2020, the World Bank took the additional steps of requiring that all transport investments with a road component include road safety in the economic analysis of the project, and that they achieve a reduction in road traffic fatalities over the lifetime of the investment.

Moreover, the World Bank directly finances road safety projects around the world, including supporting stronger road safety management and enforcement capacity, enhancing vehicle safety standards, improving data management systems, and engaging with civil society and the private sector. In the period from mid-2013 to mid-2023, the World Bank has committed $3.34 billion globally toward road safety. This included two standalone road safety projects in 2022, in Bangladesh and India.

GRSF has also catalyzed investments in road safety. GRSF was established in 2006 to provide funding, knowledge, and technical assistance to scale up road safety investments in LMICs. Over the last decade, GRSF has been instrumental in catalyzing much of the World Bank’s road safety investment through the provision of $52 million in grants for the preparation and implementation of projects with a road safety component.

I am a long-route bus driver. I’ve been driving for 14 years. Six months back, while driving on the Karnali highway, the road sloped, the brakes failed. There was a barrier. All were saved. There were 36 passengers on the bus. Because there was a barrier, no one was harmed. The barrier saved my life. Now I can be with my sons.
photo of Bimal Lamichhare, Bus Driver in Nepal
Bimal Lamichhare
Bus Driver, Western Nepal (2020)


Between mid-2018 and mid-2023, World Bank-financed road and urban transport projects provided 65 million people with access to safer roads, which is the equivalent of approximately the entire population of South Africa or the United Kingdom. This achievement has been underpinned by the extension of higher safety standards to a range of World Bank-financed road and urban transport projects.

Between 2010 and 2019, projects covering 10,000 km of roads incorporated safety recommendations from GRSF-funded assessments, which have transformed these stretches of road into significantly safer environments for all road users. These investments have in turn saved lives and prevented countless injuries.

Between 2015 to 2017, GRSF funded the installation of 73,000 meters of crash barriers along mountainous roads in Nepal as part of the Road Safety Support Project. A post-construction evaluation found that these barriers prevented 270 fatalities and serious injuries. Extrapolating the trend, it is estimated that over 3,400 lives could be saved during the barriers’ 20-year lifetime. The success of the project also encouraged the government of Nepal to develop and implement a broader road safety strategy.

In Iraq, the World Bank-financed Transport Corridors Project—which aimed to improve road transport connectivity and safety on 225 km of major roads—resulted in an 81 percent reduction in the number of annual fatalities (from 113 in 2013 to 21 in 2022) through, for example, improvements to intersection design.

In Albania, the World Bank-financed Results-based Road Maintenance and Safety Project—which aimed to improve the condition and safety of primary and primary-secondary road networks and strengthen road asset management and safety practices—led to 68 fewer fatalities annually between 2013 and 2022.

In Tanzania, the World Bank-financed Dar es Salaam Urban Transport Improvement Project (phase 1) resulted in a 79 percent reduction in road fatalities, from 33 to 7, along the project corridor between 2015 and 2021.

The GRSF also supports training and knowledge transfer to further promote improvements in road safety. Between 2015 and 2023, nearly 22,000 professionals were trained through GRSF road safety programs or learning events where GRSF has contributed. Participants included road engineers, urban and transport planners, government officials, researchers, and road safety advocates. Many have been trained on the “safe system” approach to road safety—widely recognized as the most effective framework for improving road safety—and many others have been accredited to conduct road safety audits. This knowledge transfer has equipped local officials with the tools to implement tangible road safety enhancements within their jurisdictions, such as the installation of pedestrian crosswalks, the reduction of speed limits near schools, and the strategic redesign of intersections.

Data Highlights

The proportion of World Bank road and urban transport financing dedicated to road safety has been rising over time:

Road Safety Financing as % of Total World Bank Road and Urban Transport Financing

Bank Group Contribution

In the period from mid-2013 to mid-2023, the World Bank financed approximately $40 billion of road and urban transport sector projects. Of this, $3.34 billion—representing 8.3 percent of the total—has been invested directly in road safety, including over $600 million in standalone road safety projects in South Asia. The World Bank has also advanced road safety in LMICs by hosting and administering GRSF since its establishment in 2006.


The World Bank, via GRSF, has established and sustained a wide range of partnerships, which have contributed greatly to road safety results. On the funding side, Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety, the government of the United Kingdom (UK), the International Motor Vehicle Inspection Committee (CITA), TotalEnergies Foundation, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the FIA Foundation have supported various activities.

For example, the UK government has funded a variety of studies on the far-reaching health impacts of road crashes and the efficacy of emergency medical systems, and Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety has supported the assessment of roads for safety risk and the development of the Speed Management Hub—a one-stop shop with hands-on resources for improving speed management.

The World Bank has also coordinated its approach to road safety with other MDBs to amplify impact. In addition, the World Bank and GRSF have partnered with numerous technical, research, and government agencies to scale up road safety investments.

Looking Ahead

Despite the positive results to date, much more work is needed to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.6 of halving the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes by 2030. As vehicle ownership increases rapidly across low and middle-income countries, already-high fatality rates could escalate further. A minimum of $200 billion in additional road safety investments is needed globally to meet the SDG target.

For this reason, the primary objective of GRSF—as outlined in its 2024-2027 business plan—is to help increase the amount of funding dedicated to road safety in LMICs by the World Bank and other MDBs. GRSF will also play an increasingly central role in coordinating efforts among MDBs to amplify impact.

This focus is already having a positive impact. As of February 2024, over 50 World Bank-financed road and urban transport projects, with a combined value of around $11 billion, are under preparation, many of which include improving road safety as a key objective.