Iran has the highest mortality rate due to road traffic in the world. As a pedestrian, passenger or driver you are more likely to die if you're involved in a road traffic accident in Iran than anywhere else.
The map below shows Iran being 10 points higher than Iraq and Angola, almost 30 points higher than Niger and almost 60 points higher than the USA.Mortality caused by Road Traffic Injury by Country
This high mortality rate could be caused by a range of factors:
- congestion meaning emergency services unable to get to road accident sites in time
- distance between accident sites and hospitals contributing to a low survival rate
- lack of airbags other modern innovations in Peykans
- no obvious hard shoulder on expressways where broken-down vehicles can wait
- lack availability of hydraulic rescue tools to free people from wreckages
Some of those are probably contributing factors. But the main cause has to be Iran's driving culture and Iranians' bad driving. Driving in Iran is marked by a selfishness that is rarely seen publicly elsewhere in Iranian culture. Not everyone is a technically bad driver, but even good drivers in Iran have bad habits and are forced into dangerous manouveres by the actions of other road users.
With the evidence above and personal experience, I will say it clearly: Iran has the world's worst drivers. They kill themselves, their families, their friends, their colleagues and they kill pedestrians and other drivers.
Iranians crash into each other and just carry on driving. They don't bother exchanging numbers or getting witness contact information. Nobody gives way to let user drivers into the flow of traffic, so they have to squeeze their cars into tiny gaps. They don't wear seatbelts. They have no lane discipline so on a 3 lane expressway you find cars drifting all over the road. On Vali Asr Avenue in Tehran you find cars five-abreast on a three-lane road as everyone pushes forward an inch at a time, constantly changing lanes and surging forward three metres only to brake sharply behind the car in front or career into the back of them.
Things Iranians can do to reduce their number of road deaths
As many Iranians don't know what it is like to drive in another country, here are some steps Iran could take to reduce the number of road deaths.
- WEAR SEATBELTS - This is essential as Iranians refuse to wear them. It should be illegal to drive without wearing one. Taxi drivers are supposed to wear them, but they only pull them across their chests when they see traffic police. All Iranians should encourage their families, friends, colleagues, etc. to wear them. "We only drive slowly" is not an valid excuse.
- Stop motorbikes driving down streets the wrong way, on pavements and through the bazaars, stop them weaving through traffic in front of cars.
- If you miss the exit on an expressway, do not reverse back along the road (sometimes for 2 or 3kms!) carry on and take the next exit. Do not overtake other cars whilst reversing.
- Lane discipline - stay in your lane, don't just drift around the road. Don't keep switching lanes. Don't have more cars across the roads than there are lanes.
- Don't drive the wrong way up a one-way street.
- Stop talking on mobile phones or sending text messages whilst driving and riding motorcycles.
- All motorcyclists should wear helmets. Fleece headbands do not provide sufficient protection.
All simple steps that can help improve Iran's driving culture and, most importantly, save lives on the road.
Photo: Philipp C Jahn on Flickr.