11 Jul 19

Higher LatAm vehicle safety standards could save 25,000 lives

The precarious condition of many roads in Latin America coupled with lower vehicle safety standards throughout the region is putting many drivers and pedestrians at risk, especially in the key markets of Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile.

According to the World Health Organization’s Global Road Safety Report 2018, Latin America lags far behind the number of international vehicle safety standards seen in Europe.
Approximately 195,000 deaths and serious injuries could be prevented by 2030 if United Nation (UN) vehicle safety regulations were applied in the four key markets, according to a study carried out by UK-based Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) commissioned by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

According to the study, which addresses the need for crash avoidance and pedestrian protection measures, more than 25,000 Latin American lives could be saved and over 170,000 serious injuries prevented.

The UN safety regulations define minimum standards for crashworthiness, including those to help occupants in front and side impact crashes, as well as electronic stability control and protection measures to improve safety for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and bicyclists.

Saving Lives

According to the TRL study on the four countries, of the nearly 76 million registered cars in 2015, approximately 62,000 car related fatalities were reported that year and the situation was worsening, especially in Brazil and Argentina. From 2005-2014, reported fatalities rose 22% in Brazil and 20% in Argentina.

Saving Money

The report also found that crash avoidance and pedestrian protection measures would become cost-beneficial in each country within one to four years. Overall, it stated that preventing fatalities and serious injuries across the four countries would result in an economic benefit of some US$28.9 billion.

Simultaneous Adoption

However, all four countries need to simultaneously adopt all the key regulations for the best result. Consistency is key for vehicle manufacturers in the region. The report specifically notes that Brazil needs to immediately implement UN Regulation 95 which addresses occupant protection during side impact crashes.

Mexico, Argentina, and Chile have already adopted the regulation, but Mexico has yet to define a timeline.

Latin NCAP

The recommendations in the study are closely aligned with the Global New Car Assessment Program NCAP (locally known as Latin NCAP) as well as UN regulations.

“Latin American countries have begun to implement more vehicle safety measures, but progress is inconsistent across the region,” says Latin NCAP Secretary General Alejandro Furas.

“Brazil is leading the way, with manufacturers responding positively to the demands of Latin NCAP’s tests and consumer awareness campaigns, but regulation is also needed to set minimum safety requirements,” the Secretary General adds.

According to Latin NCAP, safer cars are not important just for passengers but for all vulnerable road users. The organization intends to continue building consumer awareness throughout the region and pushing for higher vehicle standards.

Toyota RAV 4 received top awards from Latin NCAP in 2019 (source: Latin NCAP)

For more on the proper management and key insights in fleet vehicle safety, insurance, and others, stay tuned for the upcoming edition of the Fleet LatAm magazine, launching in September just ahead of the first ever Fleet LatAm Conference and Training in Mexico City from 23 to 25 September.

Authored by: Daniel Bland