Famous road deaths: from Brazil to the UAE

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“It’s better to crash into a nap, than to nap into a crash,” is a famous saying. Yet unfortunately, it does not always happen this way. Every day, thousands of people lose their lives on the roads. While many of the victims are members of our community, there are also a large number of victims who are renowned artists, writers, actors, athletes or politicians.  

The impact of these road deaths can reverberate throughout an entire society. Great talent that contributes to advances in science, sports or the arts, is lost permanently, and unnecessarily. Reflecting over the past century, the loss of famous road deaths in the Western world include:

  • Pierre Curie, French physicist and Nobel Prize winner, 1906
  • Antoni Gaudi, Spanish Catalan architect who was hit by a tram in Barcelona in 1926
  • T.E. Lawrence, also known as Lawrence of Arabia, World War I hero and supporter of the Arabs against the Ottoman Empire in 1935
  • James Dean, American actor who died at age 24 in 1955
  • Albert Camus, French philosopher and Nobel Prize Winner in 1960
  • Jayne Mansfield, American film, television, theatre actress in 1967
  • Ayrton Senna, Brazilian race car driver, in 1994 during the San Marino Grand Prix
  • Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco in 1982
  • Natalia Lavrova, Russian Olympic dual gold medalist in 2010

Reflections in the Arab world

The Middle East North Africa (MENA) region currently ranks first for road fatality rates globally, with 32.2 per population of 100,000. Available data reveals that speed is the main factor for the majority of crashes, reflected in the significant number of road traffic deaths among famous figures such as:

  • Ghazi of Iraq, King from 1933 until his death in 1939
  • Famous Syrian Singer, Asmahan who at the age of 31 in 1944
  • Egyptian guitarist and actor Omar Khorshid died at the age of 31 in 1981
  • Al-Jazeera news anchor, Maher Abdullah, who died at the age of 45 in 2004. Six years later, Maher’s son, Osama, also died under the same circumstances when he was only 28 years old in 2010
  • Sports star, Hicham Zerouali, from Morocco nicknamed ‘Zero’ or the ‘Moroccan Magician’ killed at age 27 in 2004
  • Theyab Awana,professional footballer for the Emirati Pro-League club Baniyas and the UAE national team died in September 2011 at the age of 21. Awana was famous for his penalty in the UAE’s friendly win against Lebanon, which became a sensation with 1.25 million hits on YouTube.

The Global Road Safety Partnership recognises that road crashes do not differentiate between sex, age or social status. And no matter who we are – famous or not – life is precious. Road crash and injury is a humanitarian crisis that has to be addressed. Join the Global Road Safety Partnership as we work to make an effort to decrease the rate of road crash death and injuries worldwide.

Together we can save millions of lives.
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