Although road traffic accidents are a major global public health problem, most of it occurs in low- and middle-income countries including Ethiopia. Pedestrians and passengers of commercial vehicles are the most vulnerable in Ethiopia, whereas in high-income countries crashes involve primarily privately owned vehicles with the driver being the main car occupant injured or killed. In the United States of America, for instance, 60% of the fatalities account to car drivers, while in Ethiopia, 5% account to drivers. This implies that in one crash the number of people killed or injured in Ethiopia is about 30 times higher than in the US. This study aims at identifying the main causes of the problem; and at giving recommendations based on the findings. It focuses on Ethiopia’s road traffic accidents magnitude, causes and possible interventions. The Haddon Matrix, which explains injuries in terms of factors (Host-Agent – Environment) and also in terms of a time sequence (Pre-crash, Crash, Post-crash), was used to classify the key determinants of road traffic accidents in Ethiopia and also used to make the analyses. Poor road network; absence of knowledge on road traffic safety; mixed traffic flow system; poor legislation and failure of enforcement; poor conditions of vehicles; poor emergency medical services; and absence of traffic accident compulsory insurance law have been identified as key determinants of the problem. There is currently no national policy on the prevention of road traffic accidents; however, there are draft strategies on road safety. Road traffic accidents are a huge public health and development problem in Ethiopia. Its current situation requires a high level political commitment, immediate decisions and actions in order to curb the growing problem. Otherwise, it will get worse from day-to-day as motorization and population increase rapidly. This study recommends the Ghanaian and Colombian “hands-on” experiences, which are feasible to be implemented in Ethiopia.
Keywords: road traffic accidents; interventions; road safety; global trends of road traffic accidents; Ethiopia