23 Jul 18

Road safety in Latin America lags behind

Road Safety in Latin America is still lagging behind compared to Europe and North America, especially when it comes to vehicle safety, as shown in Latin NCAP’s latest crash test. 

In June LatinNCAP published its third round of results for 2018. The regional system of independent crashworthiness and safety rating across Latin America and the Caribbean has published crash reports of more than eighty cars in eight test phases, since its launch in 2010. Their goal is to raise awareness and put pressure on politicians and lawmakers to increase car safety standards in Latin America, which are unfortunately not the same as in Europe or in North America.

Lack of Regulation

Latin NCAP’s latest report shows good results for the recently launched Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross but disappointing results for the Renault Sandero/Logan. The latter has a poor score on side impact, due to the low performing structure, it does not offer standard 3 point belts in all seating positions, nor ISOFIX anchor points (to attach child restraint devices (CRD)), which are offered as standard in the Sandero for Africa. 

Latin NCAP sees the low score of a bestselling car as the Sandero/Logan as a consequence of the lack of strict regulations throughout the Latin America and Caribbean region. Alejandro Furas, Secretary General of Latin NCAP calls for more government regulation and incentives to implement safety technologies like ESC and ABC in cars. 

Last year, some OEMs implemented new elements of safety in mid to high class vehicles, similar to the European and American markets. They included parking sensors, anti-accident systems, and semi-automated driving systems, among others. Brazil, home to the region's largest automobile fleet, is also working toward legislation that would stimulate the production of these types of vehices.

Nevertheless, these kinda of cars are not affordable for the everyone, forcing them to buy ‘small’ cars with outdated airbags, ABS, and most innovative safety technologies. 

Decade of Action

Vehicle safety standards are a crucial strategy to improve road safety. Latin America annually counts 115,000 road fatalities, 65% of which are pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. It is the first cause of death for children between 5 and 14 years, and the second for youngsters and adolescents. To combat these mortality figures, the United Nations created the Decade of Action for Road Safety, which looks for government programmes to significantly enhance road safety by 2020.

Since the start of the programme, some changes have been noticed in the region, like a slightly increase of awareness and some new laws, however there is still a significant gap between the road safety of the region and in Europe or North America. 

One of the initiatives was the launch of the First Regional Road Observatory (OISEVI), which collected and exchanged data, information, and strategies considering road safety. Nevertheless, crucial in the improvement of road safety is appropriate legislation and strong institutions, which at the moment are still lacking in Latin America.

Authored by: Fien Van den steen