Road safety regulations vary considerably depending on the country in question, and although we tend to think that the rules are reasonably similar in each continent, this is not necessarily the case. Within the USA itself there are differences, yet when it comes to Latin America and the Caribbean we find that each country has its own regulations, which are sometimes very different to those of the neighbors.
Sometimes it is even the case that there is no clear regulation, as we found when talking about Mexico, o bien sí existe y es claramente insuficiente. Hoy nos ocupamos de Brasil, or that there is a regulation in place but it is clearly insufficient. Today we are looking at Brazil with the aim of trying to find out what the situation is and what we need to know if traveling in this country and driving on its roads with our children.
Brazil, along with Mexico, accounts for around 50 percent of all child fatalities in Latin America and the Caribbean, so therefore is faced with a huge challenge to overcome. Having said that, although we are talking about an extremely high number of child fatalities, the mortality rate in Brazil is actually 5.5 percent (2,407 children under the age of 14) compared to other really appalling figures such as Bolivia (with a rate of 21.4 percent, involving a total of 426 children under 14).
All the data presented in this article can be consulted in the Fundación MAPFRE study entitled “Children's Road Safety. Use of child restraint systems: analysis of the situation in Latin America and the Caribbean”.
Technical and procedural regulations in Brazil
Brazil is one of the three countries studied in the above-mentioned report that has technical regulations in place, and furthermore the country undertakes nationwide road safety awareness campaigns, which lead us to believe that society is starting to become more conscious of the situation. However, the general regulations appear much more lax than in Europe:
- Children under the age of 10 are required to travel in the back seats of vehicles, “apart from in vans”, , which should be much more specific, along the lines of Spain, where children must always travel in the back seats apart from from three specific exceptions.
- Children under seven-and-a-half must be seated in a child restraint system, and those above this age must wear a seat belt. In other words, the criterion is not the height of the child but its age, something that hardly guarantees safety either one way or the other. Children over the age of seven-and-a-half may be much shorter than average and hence be unprotected when traveling.
- Children are permitted to be seated in a CRS installed in the front seat when the back seats of the vehicle have two-point seat belts and when the necessary precautions have been taken, such as disabling the front passenger airbag. This is a singular criterion and leads us to assume that even the average level of safety in the cars manufactured in Brazil is deficient.
If traveling in Brazil, this is the regulation, but the recommendation is that you make every possible effort to guarantee the safety of your children on all your travels by ensuring that they sit in the back seat in a child restraint system corresponding to their height and weight. You should try to find the most modern possible vehicle that has enough seats and three-point seat belts, and use the best possible child seat you can get your hands on.
The conclusions with regard to what Brazil can do to improve this situation are very clear: it is urgent that children's road safety is made a priority on every government agenda. They need to create alliances among countries to reach a uniform set of regulations with a focus on making them as comprehensive as possible, on improving vehicle safety and on rolling out awareness-raising campaigns across society as a whole.