High level of motorcycle accidents in the Northeast is related to an increase in the fleet, says Gabriela Granja Porto

The sudden increase owes to the fact that a motorcycle is useful as a working tool, for its agility, economy and low-cost


Victims of facial fractures can present a single of multiple fractures and the greater the number of these fractures, the greater and more complex is the treatment

Brazil is among the countries with most accidents involving motorcycles, especially in the poorest regions – North and Northeast. According to Gabriela Granja Porto, professor at Pernambuco University (UPE), who coordinated a resent research on the subject, the number of accidents increase in the Northeast could be due to several factors, but one of them is the sudden increase in the number of these vehicles. To her, this owes to the fact the motorcycle is useful as a working tool, for its agility, economy and low-cost.

Data from the research, performed in the three main trauma emergencies in Pernambuco, show that for every 10 victims of motorcycle accident, four were not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. Regarding the great number that did not use a helmet, there is a general agreement that the population should be approached in two ways: education and punishment. The traffic authority acknowledges the need to invest more in punishing so the riders feed the weight of the violation, he says.

The study also revealed that about 40% of the interviewed had ingested alcoholic beverages, what could have lead the riders to take riskier maneuvers, in this case, the non-use of helmets. The professor, who is also a member at the Brazilian College of oral, maxillofacial surgeons, explains that all helmets until expiration protects the entire cranium, but not all helmets protect the face. The closed helmet is more recommended for the chin cover that protects the entire face. On the other hand, open helmets leave the face completely exposed when the individual hits the ground, she says.

Victims of facial fractures caused by motorcycle accidents can have a single fracture or multiple fractures, and the greater is the number of these fractures, the greater is the complexity to treat them. According to the specialist, there is also an aggravating factor that many victims cannot undergo treatment because they are in Intensive Care Units (ICU), in cases of more severe traumas. These people can compromise chewing and breathing, can have important aesthetical consequences, besides the risk of having unleveled eyes, according to the complexity of the factures and time elapsed until proper treatment, she alerts while adding that oral maxillofacial surgeons employed in large emergency hospitals frequently perform these procedures and the fractures are very severe.

Regarding the profile of facial trauma victims in emergency rooms after motorcycle accidents, Dr. Gabriella details that around 90% were males and 56% aged between 20 and 29 years-old. To her, these data are in accordance to the fact that young men are those who most use this transportation to commute and work (around 67% say they use this vehicle for work). The research revealed surprising data while pointing that 49% of the interviewed were not licensed drivers, 37% declared to have drank alcohol and 59% were not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. The three findings are prohibited by law, reason why we are impressed and lead us to think that traffic monitoring should be more effective and cover the entire state, she admits.

The professor agrees that the researchs data reveal the monitoring should be more extensive. We know many countries have made their traffic laws more strict and this lead to a general decrease in the number of traffic accidents. Stiff penalties make the driver think twice before breaking the law. Laws are strict when the forbid alcohol ingestion, but monitoring is still not extensive enough. There are discussions in traffic organs towards traffic municipalization. I believe decentralizing should make monitoring more effective, she argues. To help reducing motorcycle accidents, the specialist suggests the first move would be to use individual protection equipment, especially the helmet, besides not riding under the influence of alcohol or other substances that change the drivers perception inducing traffic violations.

Actions – In 2013, the Brazilian College of Oral Maxillofacial Surgeons called all states to contact traffic authorities to strike prevention campaigns as an attempt to reduce frequency and severity of motorcycle accidents. Since then, Dr. Gabrielas team join prevention campaigns along with motorcyclists who commute in Recifes streets and those who have been injured and are hospitalized; They believe actions focused in primary prevention level may break the chain in its initial phase, generating changes in behavior and the societys knowledge about the theme.