Today’s Solution for Tomorrow’s Traffic

Experiences, Challenges, and the Future for São Paulo’s Road Safety

By: David Braunstein, Together for Safer Roads President

Each year, 1.25 million people are killed and 50 million are injured on the world’s roads.1 It is the global human, public health and economic crisis hiding in plain sight. Road traffic injuries are among the leading causes of death worldwide, and in low- and middle-income countries they are on the rise.1

There has been substantial activity to curb these numbers with the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020. Unfortunately, the numbers are still troubling – in both developed and developing countries.

A ray of light is in São Paulo, where we’ve seen positive progress toward reducing road deaths and injuries.

This week, I had the honor to travel to São Paulo and participate in Arteris’ 4th Safety Forum to exchange experiences, discuss challenges, and pose future innovative approaches to improve road safety in Brazil and abroad. It’s extremely encouraging to see clear evidence that São Paulo – with help from the private sector – is building road safety management capacity to create safer roads for all.

Case Study: Data Management for State Road Safety Action Plan
In 2014, São Paulo had a 15.4 traffic fatality rate per 100,000 people, more than Argentina (12.6) and Mexico (14.7). To reduce fatalities, Vida dê Preferência: Movimento Paulista de Segurança no Trânsito (MPST), to which Together for Safer Roads (TSR) is an active advisor, was formed to create, implement, and evaluate the State Action Plan for road safety in 64 cities, which includes building a mission critical data and mapping system for timely reporting. Intuitively we know that you can’t solve what you can’t understand. So, I was especially pleased to hear that our many partners in Brazil view the INFOSIGA SP traffic safety analytics solution we’ve help them create has unlocked so much value. The evidence is clear.

In 2016, MPST reported a 6.5 percent reduction in road fatalities in São Paulo compared to the same period in 2015. For the first half of 2017, MPST is already estimating a reduction of 3.8 percent in road fatalities. That translates to 447 lives saved and an incalculable “return” in terms of emotional and social costs.

In a similar approach, Arteris – a subsidiary of TSR’s member Abertis – is implementing actions to improve safety on the Regis Bittencourt Highway, which Arteris operates on behalf of state transportation authorities. This is one of the most important roads in Brazil, connecting Mercosul countries, and previously known as a “death road.” Since 2008, Arteris has systematically identified and classified the most unsafe points of the road and deployed actions to change this reality. Arteris has achieved an impressive reduction of 55 percent in road fatalities during this decade, exceeding the goal set by the United Nations Decade of Action.

We applaud them for this accomplishment and look forward to partnering even more closely with Arteris and Abertis.

Case Study: Road User Behaviors
Arteris also presented a new study on Brazilian highway drivers compared to similar research conducted in Spain, France, and other countries where Abertis is present – deepening the knowledge about user behaviors and identifying alternatives for risk mitigation.

For example, the survey showed more than half (57.5 percent) of Brazil drivers do not signal when changing lanes, 29.6 percent of vehicles disrespect speed limits, and 48 percent of passengers in the rear seat don’t wear seat belts. This survey was further reinforced by an ad hoc survey of attendees at the Arteris 4th Safety Forum, where more than 95 percent of the audience responding to a poll suggested that road user behavior is the biggest cause of traffic fatalities. Clearly there is a lot of work to do to change attitudes and behaviors.

But Elvis Granzotti, Arteris operations manager, shared, “despite these worrisome behaviors endangering lives of other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists, preventative actions by highway managers, the granting authority, the control, and inspection bodies can be taken.” To that end, we at TSR look forward to helping our partners in Brazil to better understand behavioral and cultural factors that can be changed to further influence road safety.

Future: Innovative Public-Private Partnerships
We’re just at the beginning. We must continue to invest in innovative public-private partnerships. Governments must be the ones to enact road safety management systems and programs. The private sector has a valuable role to plan and will continue to collaborate with the public sector – acknowledging and harnessing eight key forces that we see in our successful partnerships.

It is only when all stakeholders come together that road safety projects, policies and technologies can be sustainable – ultimately saving lives. At TSR we seek to be active participants and thought leaders in public-private partnerships. We are learning by doing. We are tapping into long-standing relationships, and these new forces are taking hold to achieve our mission. For anyone reading this that would like to join us in our important mission, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly.


1World Health Organization. “Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015.” Retrieved from