The World Health Organization (WHO) Thursday expressed alarm over the growing number of accidents involving young people on motorcycles in Asia, warning that the situation has become a public health epidemic.
The WHO noted that young motorcyclists make up a significant percentage of injuries and fatalities among road users in many Asian countries, such as Cambodia and Malaysia.
"Factors such as speed, no helmets, risk-taking behaviour and drink-driving contribute to the rising trend," according to the WHO regional office, which is based in Manila.
It suggested "simple measures" that could be taken to help make roads safer for young people as the WHO marked observance of the first United Nations Global Road Safety Week dedicated to youth and road safety on April 23-29.
The measures include setting and enforcing appropriate speed and blood alcohol limits, as well as introducing and enforcing mandatory seat belt, helmet and child restraint laws.
Authorities can also provide safer routes for pedestrians and cyclists, construct speed bumps, separate different types of traffic and improve emergency services from the crash scene to the health facility.
The WHO noted that nearly 1.2 million people worldwide die as a result of road traffic collisions every year. Of these, 40 percent are under the age of 25. Millions more people are injured and often remain disabled for life.
In low and medium-income countries, victims are often pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists and users of public transport.
A motorcycle is also a family vehicle, with children routinely transported as passengers. Helmets are rarely used, partly because of their cost and partly because of a lack of helmets for children, the WHO said.