We estimate that traffic deaths have declined by 25% since 2012, close to the decline estimated by official statistics (27%) but much more than estimated by GBD-2019 (10%).
The First UN Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011–2020) ended with most low/middle-income countries (LMICs) failing to reduce road traffic deaths. In contrast, Brazil reported a strong decline starting in 2012. However, comparisons with global health statistical estimates suggest that official statistics from Brazil under-report traffic deaths and overestimate declines. Therefore, we sought to assess the quality of official reporting in Brazil and explain discrepancies.
We obtained national death registration data and classified deaths to road traffic deaths and partially specified causes that could include traffic deaths. We adjusted data for completeness and reattributed partially specified causes proportionately over specified causes. We compared our estimates with reported statistics and estimates from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD)-2019 study and other sources.
We estimate that road traffic deaths in 2019 exceeded the official figure by 31%, similar to traffic insurance claims (27.5%) but less than GBD-2019 estimates (46%). We estimate that traffic deaths have declined by 25% since 2012, close to the decline estimated by official statistics (27%) but much more than estimated by GBD-2019 (10%). We show that GBD-2019 underestimates the extent of recent improvements because GBD models do not track the trends evident in the underlying data.
Brazil has made remarkable progress in reducing road traffic deaths in the last decade. A high-level evaluation of what has worked in Brazil could provide important guidance to other LMICs.