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Motorcycle deaths in the Americas more than tripled in the last two decades

Thursday, September 5th 2013 - 23:59 UTC
Full article 3 comments
In 2010 there were 149,992 traffic deaths in the Americas and an estimated 5 million people injured with motorcyclists represent 15% of these deaths In 2010 there were 149,992 traffic deaths in the Americas and an estimated 5 million people injured with motorcyclists represent 15% of these deaths

Motorcycle deaths in the Americas more than tripled during the last two decades, according to a study by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) published in the International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion.

The study, Trends in fatal motorcycle injuries in the Americas, 1998-2010, shows that motorcycle deaths in the region increased 227% in 12 years, from 3,209 in 1998 to 10,505 in 2010.

Men are the most frequent motorcycle users in Latin America, and those aged 25 to 35 years were the most common victims of crashes. According to the study, men face a 7.8 times higher risk of death from motorcycle crashes than women.

“Recent economic changes, the rapid increase of motor vehicle use, the affordability of motorcycles over public transportation, the lack of adequate public transportation policies and other insufficient measures to improve safety explain these trends,” said Eugênia Rodrigues, PAHO/WHO regional adviser for road safety and co-author of the study.

This study is the first to compile data from 17 countries in the Americas aimed at emphasizing the severity of the problem and proposing hypotheses to explain trends in motorcycle deaths and injuries. Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, and the United States were included in the study.

Results show that the countries with the highest mortality rates were Colombia (3.6 per 100,000 inhabitants), Brazil (2.9 per 100,000), Paraguay (0.2 per 100,000), and Suriname (2.2 per 100,000). Chile and Ecuador had the lowest rates, both with 0.2 deaths per 100,000. Chile and Paraguay had the highest rates of increase in number of motorcycle deaths, however.

The report shows that, in the Americas, traffic-related injuries are the number-one cause of death among children aged 5 to 14 years and the second-leading cause of death for those aged 15 to 44 years. In 2010, there were 149,992 traffic deaths in the Americas and an estimated 5 million people injured. Motorcyclists represent 15% of these deaths.

Motorcyclists are especially vulnerable to injuries due to the high speeds they can achieve and the small size of motorcycles, which offer little protection and are less visible in traffic. Motorcyclists involved in collisions have a higher risk of death or serious injury and suffer a high frequency of injuries to the head, chest and legs.

In the Americas, the number of registered vehicles is estimated at over 422 million, of which approximately 38 million are motorcycles.

There are differences in the types of vehicles and motorization rates from one country to another, with motorization rates ranging from 55 per 1,000 inhabitants in Peru to 779 per 1,000 in the United States.

Results suggest that lower-income countries tend to have higher motorcycle death rates.

Less than half (40.6%) of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have adequate helmet laws requiring the use of helmets by all passengers, of all ages, on any motorized two-wheel vehicle, on all roads, and with helmets that fulfill specific safety standards.

Needed measures that could help halt or reverse these trends include the development and enforcement of standard motorcycle safety norms; laws that require helmet use by all passengers; exclusive motorcycle lanes; better enforcement of speed limits, quality, and safety of motorcycles; and policies that encourage the use of public transportation.

The study was conducted by Eugênia Rodrigues, Antonio Sanhueza, and José Escamilla-Cejudo from PAHO/WHO in partnership with Andrés Villaveces of the Cisalva Institute of the Universidad del Valle, Colombia.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

Top Comments

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  • Rufus

    The moral of the story: Lids are handy, not just to muffle the engine noise, or to keep your head out of the wind but also to stop your brain splattering on the inside of your skull if you crash.

    Sep 06th, 2013 - 07:45 am 0
  • GeoffWard2

    Lids on, lids off, the kids in Brasil treat motorbikes the same as kids everywhere .. and do similarly stupid things, often to impress the girls.
    But the motorbike is much more than that here; it is an affordable way of getting to work.

    The problem is that the millions of bikes - registered and unregistered - do not know or accept the rules of the road. Neither do the other types of motorised vehicles or the donkey-carts.

    Many 'sane' adults around where I have lived in Bahia prefer to ride their motorbikes AGAINST the oncoming traffic because they say they feel safer being able to see the dangers ahead.
    The dangers frequently run right over them.

    After 6 pm, getting home from work in the dark, the game of rush-hour dodgems frequently results in the exposed biker and passenger being the fatal losers. The winners are often the urubu.

    Sep 06th, 2013 - 09:17 am 0
  • ChrisR

    In Uruguay we have a document entitled Manual de Conducción, which I can categorically state is universally ignored by all indigenous road users. The document is in itself a hotch-podge of the various driving standards in seemingly every state in the USA, translated from American into Spanish.

    I thought this would be mandatory but could find no Ley (Law) that related to it and then one of my friends who knows about the manual told me it was ASPIRATIONAL. That explained a lot.

    I have already posted about the abysmal state of the cars in Uruguay, though that is steadily getting better. The motos (motorbikes) are even worse, if that were possible. I can see why Uruguay was left out, the government probably did not return the figures because they are so ashamed of them.

    Seeing the 3 YO sitting in front of dad, two more children 6 to 9 YO sitting behind him followed by mom (who I have seen carrying a babe-in-arms) on a 90cc – 110cc “motorbike” is nothing unusual. Perhaps da is wearing “the” helmet that day but not many others will have one. If children have a helmet it will be the smallest adult size – lethal.

    Alternatively, you see a “builder” carrying all sorts of gear hanging off the bars, strapped to the rear seat, etc. talking on his mobile as he goes to work.

    Then we have the “children”. Indulgent parents treat little Johnny to a 110cc moto for his 15th birthday. No helmet, no insurance, no road tax (no plate) NO LICENCE to drive because the minimum age is 16 YO. I couldn’t believe that they would be so stupid as to risk their children like this, often with beat up second-hand rubbish. Then little Johnny cuts the exhaust off to make it go faster, which of course it does not, only louder. They have no comprehension about fuelling the engine properly (by increasing the jet sizes – no fuel injection on these things) and even less about the heat range of the plug suitable for this type of running. Maintenance is a mystery and they cannot afford to

    Sep 06th, 2013 - 04:21 pm 0
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