Globally, poorer population groups bear a disproportionate burden of avoidable morbidity and mortality from road traffic injuries. The distribution of road traffic injuries is generally influenced by socioeconomic factors. Poor countries bear a disproportionate burden of injuries and fatalities, and within countries, poor people account for a disproportionate portion of the ill health due to road traffic injuries. The main source of data for this paper was the road traffic injury database of the WHO World Health Report for 1999 supplemented by the WHO Global Burden of Disease Study 2000 report, and published and unpublished works. Fatality rates for 0-4 and 5-14 year olds in low- and middle-income regions, measured as deaths per 100,000 population, were six times the rates for high-income regions, while within low- and middle-income regions the rates varied widely. Within poor countries, poor people--represented by pedestrians, passengers in buses and trucks, and cyclists--suffer a higher burden of morbidity and mortality from traffic injuries. In rich countries, children from poor socioeconomic classes suffer more injuries and deaths from road crashes than their counterparts from high-income groups. The disproportionate burden of morbidity and mortality in low- and middle-income countries, and among low socioeconomic groups in those countries, illustrates problems of global inequities in health. The problems can be addressed through policies that focus on the road safety of vulnerable groups.