Volvo: Saving lives on Brazilian roads


Anaelse Oliveira, the co-ordinator of the Volvo Traffic Safety Programme in Brazil

Saving lives on Brazilian roads

Anaelse Oliveira

When truck driver Flávio Ibarra Garcia gets behind the wheel to drive between Brazil, Argentina and Chile, he knows he is setting out on a risky assignment. Every year, 37,000 people die in the traffic in Brazil and 4,000 of them are truck drivers. However, he also knows that more than 90% of traffic accidents are due to the driver’s behaviour and that he has a real influence when it comes to road safety.

Flávio is employed by Silvestrin Frutas in the state of Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil, a large haulage company with 42 heavy-duty and medium-heavy Volvo trucks in its fleet. It transports fruit throughout Brazil and in the neighbouring countries of Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. To reduce the number of accidents in which its drivers are involved, Silvestrin Frutas has encouraged its drivers to take part in TransForm, traffic safety training that is part of Volvo do Brasil’s Traffic Safety Programme. Flávio Ibarra Garcia, who has been a professional truck driver for 14 years, was surprised by how much he learned during the training.

“I learned new functions in the truck of which I was unaware and to drive more safely and economically, primarily by understanding driving in a different way,” he says. “TransForm has helped me to program myself prior to each trip and to continue to stay aware of what I am doing throughout the journey. When I was younger, a truck was an adventure, but that’s no longer the case. I know that every trip requires preparation if it’s going to be safe.”

He thinks that the traffic in Brazil is becoming increasingly aggressive, with stressed drivers and more and more vehicles on the road.

“Thanks to the training, I’ve learned to analyse other drivers’ behaviour and, by doing so, to protect myself and avoid ending up in dangerous situations,” he says.

João Silvestrin, a partner in the Silvestrin Frutas haulage company and Flávio’s employer, says that the results can be clearly seen among the drivers who have completed the training.

“We can see that they are involved in an extremely small number of accidents and that they also drive in a more fuel-efficient way and cause less wear and tear to the trucks,” says João and he adds that the company is allowing the drivers to participate in TransForm for its own business – accidents are expensive – to the same extent as the drivers’ safety and social development.

“As we see it, it’s just as much a question of taking social responsibility. By training our drivers, we’re helping to make the traffic safer for everyone. The fact that it’s good for our company’s brand is a bonus,” he says.

The TransForm training is paid for on a 50:50 basis – half by the customer and half by Volvo do Brasil. Anaelse Oliveira, the co-ordinator of the Volvo Traffic Safety Programme in Brazil, explains that it is part of a safety project that began in Brazil 24 years ago.

“Volvo has safety in its DNA and we just couldn’t ignore the frightening number of traffic accidents in Brazil,” she says.

TransForm is an important part of the programme, which is designed to make Brazilian society and the authorities aware of the problems caused by the traffic situation in Brazil and to work more pro-actively to try to resolve the problems.

“During the time the programme has been in existence, Volvo has driven the work between industry and the authorities by promoting the meetings and discussions that are needed to reduce accidents and fatalities in the traffic,” says Anaelse Oliveira.

For haulage company owner João Silvestrin in Brazil, there is no longer any question that this is the case. He can see for himself how the reduction in the number of accidents is good for business. Of the 60 truck drivers who work for the company, half have already completed the TransForm driver training and he is planning to make sure that they all complete it.

To date in Brazil, 650 truck drivers have taken part in Volvo’s driver training and last year TransForm was awarded the first internal Volvo Group safety award.

Solange Fusco, head of Corporate Communications in Latin America, says that TransForm and Volvo do Brasil’s Traffic Safety Programme have added a large number of positive aspects for Volvo in the country, including a stronger brand and an even better relationship between customers and dealers.

“All of us who are involved in TransForm are proud that it has become an important tool for the development of professional drivers. At the same time, it is reinforcing Volvo’s place as the leader in safety and is contributing in a concrete manner to improving the society around us,” Solange says.