Up to 60,000 deaths per year could be avoided in six countries of the region if Latin NCAP safety labelling and UN vehicle safety regulations are adopted

The final report of the Regional Public Goods (RPG)*, “Improvements on Vehicle Safety Standards in Latin America and the Caribbean through the adoption of United Nations (UN) Regulations and consumer information systems”, led by the Inter-American Development Bank, analyses the potential effects on public health and the economic impact in the region as a result of the incorporation of vehicle safety technologies. The report includes information from the signatory countries of the RPG: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay.

The report, analyses the existing regulations in these countries, generates a proposal for the regulation for an efficient application and for the approval process. The second part of the study, led by the University of Chicago, analyses the potential health impacts, based on the estimation of the number of lives that could be saved and the burden of disability avoided as a result of the adoption of safety regulations. The third part of the study prepared under the supervision of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC, or CEPAL for its acronym in Spanish) analyses the economic impacts in terms of income and employment, commercial exchange and fiscal implications in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) countries, as a result of the possible adoption of the selected UN Regulations.

Access full Report here

Potential health impacts

The vehicle safety technologies evaluated in this study are seat belts, anti-lock braking system (ABS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), frontal airbags, side airbags, side door beams, side paddings, head restraints and frontal design of the vehicle for pedestrian protection. The technologies analysed in the report must comply with the technical requirements proposed by WP.29 of the United Nations.

In case of a total adoption of the technologies analysed, a potential overall reduction for the six countries is estimated at 33,000 (28%) less annual fatalities, and a maximum of 53,400 fatalities.

It is important to keep in mind that NCAP programs can lead manufacturers to develop designs that provide safety that exceeds the minimum requirements of the UN regulations. For example, this analysis demonstrates that the LAC region would see much greater reductions in lateral impact (7,400 deaths) if mechanisms such as the NCAP were used to encourage manufacturers to make the best vehicle designs available in the region.

10,000 to 37,000 deaths per year would be reduced with the effect of the ESC (including the effects of ABS), with a general estimate of 22,800 (19%) fewer deaths in the region. Regarding the increased availability of frontal airbags, which are effective in complementing seat belts in frontal impacts, it would allow a reduction of 2,700 to 5,100 annual deaths, with a general estimate of 4,100 ( 3.5%) less fatalities in the LAC region considering the wide presence of these elements today. Side airbags that include head protection are the most important technology to mitigate deaths and injuries in cases of side impacts, as the region could reduce from 2,500 to 4,000 deaths per year, with an overall estimate of 3,300 (3%) fewer deaths due to the increasing availability of side airbags.

The frontal design of the vehicle for pedestrian protection is especially important because pedestrians represent a large proportion of fatalities in many countries. The LAC region would experience a reduction of between 4,400 and 7,300 deaths, with a main estimate of 7,100 (6.0%) fewer deaths per year, by increasing the availability of vehicles designed for pedestrian protection.

It should be considered that tens of thousands of injured would also be avoided or mitigated, but were not quantified in this study.

Potential economic impacts

In the most likely scenario, it is estimated that the implementation of the technologies recommended in the UN Regulations developed by WP.29 would generate a regional economic growth of the 0.79% of the Gross National Product (GNP), with different effects for each country, according to the structural and foreign trade characteristics of each of them.

The expected growth in Argentina would be approximately 1.04% of the GNP. In the best scenario, the country could generate a maximum growth of 1.9%, while in a more conservative scenario it could grow 0.7%. Brazil is expected to grow 1.02%, with a better scenario of 1.9% and its worst of 0.7%. Colombia could grow 0.63% in the baseline scenario, 1.6% in the best and 0.5% in the worst. Ecuador would have an expected growth of 0.61%, in the worst of 0.4% and in the best case of 1.3%. Mexico could grow 0.5%, a better scenario of 1.2% and a worse scenario of 0.4%. Finally, Uruguay would have an expected growth of 0.59%, a better scenario of 1.7% and in the worst case of 0.4%.

While it is possible that there are more and other less benefited sectors as a result of the implementation of the UN Regulations, it is appreciated that employment would register a growth that varies between the minimum of 0.25% for Uruguay and the maximum of 1.05% for Mexico. This result suggests that the welfare of workers’ homes should not be affected in the medium term.

Modifying consumer preferences for safer and cleaner cars helps speed up the change process. Vehicle evaluation programs, such as Latin NCAP, play a fundamental role in this process of changing consumer preferences, making information accessible and transparent to all consumers.

About regulations

From the analysis made to the six countries, it has been found that no country is a signatory (contracting party) of the 1958, 1997 or 1998 UN Agreements. Some countries have opted for a partial and modified application in combination with national standards of the UN Regulations annexed to the 1958 Agreement, without their proper certification, monitoring and control. There is no verification of the conformity of production or market surveillance performing actual tests, which does not allow verifying that the vehicles on the market really comply with the required regulation. Some national regulations require specific technologies such as airbags, ABS or three-point belts, but their performance or technical characteristics are not detailed.

Alejandro Furas, Latin NCAP Secretary General said:

“The RPG represents the joint effort of the IADB, governments and institutions such as ECLAC, University of Chicago and Latin NCAP. It is an unprecedented study in our region about vehicle safety of which we are proud to have been part of. This valuable report justifies the need and urgency to promote actions to improve the safety of the vehicles in our region. The report clearly shows the need for a combined action of the application of duly controlled and verified UN regulations while making independent vehicle information available to consumers, such as Latin NCAP safety labeling. We have high fatality rates from pedestrians and cyclists who are hit by cars. We must improve the safety of cars to protect better those who are in the cars and outside of them”.


About Regional Public Goods

The Regional Public Goods (RPG) of “Support for the Implementation of Vehicle Regulations Standards in Latin America and the Caribbean” is a project that was developed with technical and financial support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). This study was created as a response to the express request of the countries of the region on the need to address vehicle safety as a key component of road safety, taking into account the low results in vehicle safety assessments of passenger cars and the high fatality rates presented by the LAC region. This study analyses a list of seventeen (17) UN Regulations on vehicle safety and emissions that were selected by the beneficiary countries.

The RPG aims to analyse the regulatory frameworks of the countries concerned, propose adjustments to them and provide tools and strategies to the governments of the region to address the problem of vehicle regulation in terms of safety and emissions. The RPG focuses on small passenger vehicles[1], referred to in categories M1 and N1 derived from M1, although several of the recommendations are applicable to larger vehicles. The countries of this study were Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay; however, the report is developed so that its recommendations are applicable to the entire region.


About Latin NCAP

The Latin New Car Assessment Programme (Latin NCAP) was launched in 2010 to develop a regional system of independent crashworthiness and safety rating across Latin America and Caribbean (LAC). Latin NCAP replicates similar consumer testing programmes developed over the last thirty years in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia, and which have proved to be very effective in improving the safety of motor vehicles. Since 2010 Latin NCAP has published the results of more than one hounded cars, all results available at www.latinncap.com/results.

Latin NCAP acknowledges the support received by the Global New Car Assessment Programme (Global NCAP), International Consumer Research and Testing (ICRT), FIA Foundation, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Initiative. Latin NCAP is an Associate member of Global NCAP and supports the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 and the Stop the Crash Partnership.


[1] M1: Vehicles intended for the transport of passengers up to 9 seats including the driver. N1: Cargo vehicles with an authorized maximum of 3,500 kg. M1a: Passenger vehicles adapted for loading up to 3,500 kg. M1b: Cargo vehicles adapted for passengers up to 3,500 kg.