The Brazilian Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA) is beginning to analyze the social and economic costs of highway accidents in Brazil.
In a similar study of urban areas, the IPEA reached the conclusion that, in the cities alone, traffic accidents cost the country US$ 2.2 billion (5.3 billion reais) annually.
This calculation takes into account expenditures on medical care, social security, lawsuits, insurance, and infrastructure.
Considering the quantity and seriousness of highway accidents, the coordinator of the study, Iêda Lima, estimates that the study will discover greater financial losses than in the cities.
According to her, 112.5 thousand accidents were registered last year on federal highways alone. Federal Highway Police records indicate that over 66 thousand people suffered injuries and 6 thousand were killed.
The study will first ascertain the costs of accidents on federal highways and, in a second phase, on roads in the state of São Paulo and in other states and municipalities.
“We shall analyze the costs of these accidents by categories of highway, vehicle, and severity of the accidents,” Lima informed. 52% of the accidents occur on just 6 of the country’s 104 federal highways.
Among the chief causes of accidents, Lima pointed to recklessness and speeding. But problems with infrastructure, such as inadequate road signs and poorly maintained thoroughfares, are also factors that contribute to accidents, according to the researcher.
“Our intention is to try to determine a relationship between the segments with the greatest incidence of accidents and the conditions of conservation of the roads,” she said. The study is expected to be concluded in July, 2006.
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