Active safety technologies and better vehicle design can prevent almost one in five road deaths in Latin America

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Latin NCAP’s testing has drawn attention to essential vehicle safety features.
Latin NCAP’s testing has drawn attention to essential vehicle safety features.

Vehicle safety design and active safety technologies, especially electronic stability control (ESC), have a significant impact on road traffic deaths, injuries, and the public health burden in the Latin American and the Caribbean region (LAC region) says a new study by the Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Chicago, published in global health journal, The Lancet.

Road traffic crashes in the LAC region killed approximately 110,000 people in 2016, and among people aged between 15 and 49 years, traffic injuries were the second leading cause of death.

While the importance of well-designed vehicles with appropriate safety technologies have been recognised in many regions, some still lag behind in public awareness and political focus, enabling car makers to continue selling substandard and killer cars. In Latin America the Latin New Car Assessment Programme (Latin NCAP) has been campaigning for improved safety design, and accelerated take up of technologies like ESC, with support from the FIA Foundation. Latin NCAP’s work testing cars, exposing poor performance, and promoting active safety systems has seen manufacturers committing to better standards for the region.

The Lancet study concluded that increasing the availability of electronic stability control, which includes antilock-brake systems, would have the largest benefits in the LAC region, projecting more than 19% fewer deaths and 17% fewer Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs), while increasing use of seatbelts would reduce deaths by 12%.

Saul Billingsley, Executive Director of the FIA Foundation, said: “This Lancet study shows how vital it is that Latin NCAP keeps up the pressure on governments and car manufacturers across Latin America. Safer vehicles would save thousands of lives in the LAC region and this study clearly shows the opportunity that exists to transform vehicle safety over the next decade as we strive to meet the SDG target to halve road traffic deaths and serious injuries.”