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Alcohol and driving: how does alcohol consumption affect motorcyclists?

27 Outubro 2023

Among Brazilian motorcyclists, a study showed that only 10% of hospitalizations due to traffic accidents resulted in the patient being discharged without any harm or disability. Know more about the impacts of alcohol consumption in this text!

In Brazil, national traffic week takes place annually between the 18th and 25th of September, with the aim of raising awareness in society about the need for safer traffic. Alcohol consumption is an important risk factor for traffic accidents (TAs). It is estimated that 1.3 million deaths occur annually due to ATs (1,2). In Brazil, WHO points out the estimated contribution of alcohol to deaths related to ATs is 36.7% for men and 23% for women (3). Although there are no precise statistics on the number of deaths from TAs attributable to alcohol in Brazil, by means of these percentages attributable to alcohol, CISA estimates that, in 2021, 10,877 deaths could have been avoided if alcohol had not been consumed. An important proportion of these deaths occur among motorcyclists, who, even if they have not been drinking, are at greater risk of fatal accidents due to the lower protection against injuries offered by this type of vehicle.

Aiming to contribute to deepening the understanding of these issues, CISA carried out an analysis of TAs attributable to alcohol from 2010 onwards, broken down by the condition of the person involved in the traffic accident, based on four categories: pedestrian, cyclist, motorcyclist and occupant of automobile, aiming to cover the main categories involved in urban traffic accidents.

Some initial data can be viewed below in the graphic of the hospitalizations for traffic accidents attributable to alcohol per 100 thousand inhabitants:


Figure 1. Hospitalizations of motorcyclists, segmented by age group, traffic accidents attributable to alcohol, from 2010 to 2021.

CISA observed, through statistical analysis, an average annual increase of 4.41% in the hospitalization rate for motorcyclists. The age group from 18 to 34 years old is the most affected by this problem, with more than 40 hospitalizations per 100 thousand inhabitants in 2021.

Figure 2. Motorcyclist deaths, segmented by age group, by ATs attributable to alcohol, from 2010 to 2021. The 18 to 34 age group has the highest death rates, but is the one with the greatest reductions in this rate.


Deaths from accidents attributable to alcohol among motorcyclists show stability over the years analyzed. For the age group of 18 to 34 years, there is a downward trend, without statistical significance. This age group had the highest death rate in 2012, with 4.2 deaths per 100 thousand inhabitants, and the lowest rate in 2021, with 3.2 deaths per 100 thousand inhabitants.

Estimates from the Ministry of Health also indicate that hospitalizations of motorcyclists increased by 55% in ten years (Agência Brasil, 2023). There are indications in the scientific literature showing that this category is the most affected by this condition (Rios et al., 2019), but there is still a lack of studies examining the reasons for the increases in hospitalizations and stability of deaths in this category, observed from 2010 to 2021. In this sense, a study carried out by Souza and collaborators (2022) indicated the same stability in the rate of deaths due to traffic accidents observed in the CISA analysis for the period from 2015 to 2020.

An analysis from 2023, with data from 2008 to 2018, points out that, among Brazilian motorcyclists, only 10% of hospitalizations for traffic accidents resulted in the patient being discharged without any harm or disability, while 82% resulted in some impairment or temporary disability, 4% resulted in permanent impairment or disability and 4% resulted in death (7). Regarding this portion of 82% for temporary injuries, it is also necessary to consider the economic and social impact of these occurrences, given that many motorcyclists use their own motorcycle as a work tool and do not have a formalized employment relationship that guarantees any type of assistance in the event of an injury, a situation that is worsened by the growing demand for “moto couriers”, especially in urban environments. In addition to the exposure and greater risks of fractures and serious accidents characteristic of the type of vehicle, a recent study points out that precarious working conditions and demands for “delivery speed” can be stressful and extremely risky factors for this population (8 ). More studies and better working conditions for these workers are necessary to prevent them from continuing to be so impacted by traffic accidents.

Additional Info

  • Referências:
    1. WHO. GLOBAL STATUS REPORT ON ROAD SAFETY 2018 SUMMARY. World Health Organization. 2018;(1):20.
    2. Haghpanahan H, Lewsey J, Mackay DF, McIntosh E, Pell J, Jones A, et al. An evaluation of the effects of lowering blood alcohol concentration limits for drivers on the rates of road traffic accidents and alcohol consumption: a natural experiment. The Lancet. 2019 Jan 26;393(10169):321–9.
    3. OMS. Global status report on alcohol and health 2018. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2018. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO. Poznyak V, Rekve D, editors. 2018. 478 p.
    4. Agência Brasil. Internações de motociclistas aumentaram 55% em 10 anos | Agência Brasil [Internet]. [cited 2023 May 1]. Available from:
    5. Rios PAA, Mota ELA, Ferreira LN, Cardoso JP, Santos GJ, Rodrigues TB. Acidentes de trânsito com condutores de veículos: incidência e diferenciais entre motociclistas e motoristas em estudo de base populacional. Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia [Internet]. 2019 Dec 5 [cited 2023 Jun 30];22:e190054. Available from:
    6. Souza RC de, Abreu LC de, Bebiano BC, Leitão FNC, Rodrigues LMR. Tendência da taxa de mortalidade por acidentes de trânsito entre motociclistas no estado de São Paulo, Brasil, de 2015 a 2020. Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia [Internet]. 2022 Dec 5 [cited 2023 Jun 30];25:e220037. Available from:
    7. Santos Souza S, Santos MF, Maikon G, Souza S. Disability in motorcyclists involved in traffic accident. Research, Society and Development [Internet]. 2023 Apr 4 [cited 2023 Jun 30];12(4):e12112441047–e12112441047. Available from:
    8. da Silva RB. Motoboys in São Paulo, Brazil: Precarious work, conflicts and fatal traffic accidents by motorcycle. Transp Res Interdiscip Perspect. 2020 Nov 1;8:100261.

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