ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Nearly 23,000 Iraqis have been killed as a result of vehicle accidents across Iraq over the last decade, the nation's Health Ministry announced on Wednesday.
“In the past ten years, 66,000 car accidents took place in Iraq, in which 22,952 people have been killed and 79,000 more wounded,” the statement read, quoting Ahmed Hassan Abu Raghif, the director of the program that monitors such accidents.
Raghif linked the high number of incidents to several factors, including excessive speed, drivers ignoring traffic instructions given by police, mobile phone use while driving, and the failure of owners to properly maintain their vehicles.
He also claimed that, globally, car accidents now kill five million people per year, but it is not clear where this number came from. It is more than three times the latest complete figures published by the World Health Organization (WHO), which showed only 1.4 million people dying of road injuries in 2016.
“Due to the increasing number of car accidents in Iraq over the past few years, the country has faced financial setbacks of two billion US dollars,” he added, specifying that the funds were used to repair "damaged roads and electricity towers," among other things.
He also blamed an additional negative economic effect on the increased number of disabled people made so by vehicular accidents, especially those between 15 – 29, prime members of the workforce.
The official noted that the government "should take further protective measures to decrease the number of car accidents by preparing an effective plan by the concerned directorates," including traffic police, civil defense, and the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.
The statement does not mention whether the numbers presented include the provinces of the Kurdistan Region or only those that are under the direct administration of the Iraqi federal government.
In January, the General Directorate of Traffic Services in the Kurdistan Region announced that 689 people were killed, and 249 more injured in car-related accidents across the region in 2017.
Editing by John J. Catherine