Violence and Injury Prevention

Road safety in China

WHO/J. Passmore

China is undergoing rapid motorization and urbanization. As a consequence, around 200 000 people lose their lives every year due to road traffic crashes. In rural areas, most of those killed are riders of two-wheelers or pedestrians, while in cities, drivers and passengers of cars and E-bike riders are most at risk. China is one of the ten countries included in the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Programme which is being conducted over five years (2010–2014) by a consortium of international partners together with national governments and local organizations.

China road safety project

The overall goal of the road safety project in China is to support the Government of China to implement good practices in road safety in line with its national road safety strategy. The focus of the project is on reducing drink–driving and speeding. The risks related to the escalating use of E-bikes in urban areas are also being addressed.

In the context of the project in China, WHO assesses legislation and advises on possible improvements, develops social marketing campaigns and measures their impact, hosts workshops for journalists, and provides road safety equipment to local implementers. The Global Road Safety Partnership trains the police on enforcement, while Johns Hopkins University conducts monitoring and evaluation activities.

The project is being implemented in:

  • Dalian (in Liaoning province in North-east China)
  • Suzhou (in Jiangsu province in Eastern China)
  • Jinhua (in Zheijiang province in Eastern China)

The combined population of these megacities is around 21 million people.

Key results

In Dalian quite significant reductions in speed have been observed following the introduction of multiple speed radars on a high-risk road, while small reductions in drink–driving have been documented in Suzhou.

WHO-supported activities


WHO supported an analysis of China’s road safety legislation and regulations pertaining to drink–driving and speeding in 2011. Based on the recommendations of the analysis, a roadmap for legislative change was developed at the end of 2011, and has led to a number of amendments. In 2012, the Government criminalized drink–driving, a move which generated significant media attention. The analysis also highlighted the emerging problem of E-bikes. Additional studies were conducted in 2012 leading to recommendations to develop a comprehensive national framework to regulate E-bikes, including measures to protect riders and other road users.

Social marketing

WHO produces evidence-based mass media campaigns after extensive research and testing conducted with target audiences. The following social marketing campaigns to prevent speeding have been adapted, and subsequently aired in China.

Speeding (2012)

Working with the media

Media reporting on road safety is an important mechanism for raising awareness among the general public and promoting specific policy change by policy-makers. In September 2012 WHO organized a workshop on road safety for about 50 local journalists in Suzhou and Dalian ahead of the launch of the social marketing campaign.