February 26, 2016
Traffic on BR-163 in Mato Grosso Increasing as Harvest Progresses
The combines are rolling in the state of Mato Grosso as farmers harvest their 2015/16 soybean crop and the crop is starting to flow to ports in southern Brazil. Sixty percent of the soybeans exported from the state will get to export facilities in southern Brazil by truck and the vast majority of those trucks will use highway BR-163.
BR-163 is the main highway leading into and out of the state of Mato Grosso and it is often referred to as the "Soybean Highway." The highway has now been turned into a toll road and it is being operated by a private company that won the right to expand it from a two-lane highway to a four-lane highway. The expansion project, which involves 800 kilometers of highway, is just getting started and it will be a number of years before it is completed. Mato Grosso is the largest soybean, corn, cotton, sunflower, and cattle producing state in Brazil.
In the meantime, the company that now operates the highway has launched a program in conjunction with the state highway police attempting to reduce the number of accidents that occur daily on the highway. On an average day, the highway carries 70,000 vehicles and that is expected to increase to 85,000 during March and April when the bulk of the soybeans are transported out of the state. Approximately 60% of all the soybeans exported from the state go by truck and unfortunately, half of the accidents on the highway involve heavy trucks often with deadly consequences.
The main problem on this highway are long lines of slow moving heavy trucks and the lack of passing lanes. The state police are requesting that truck drivers leave enough space between trucks so passenger vehicles can pass them one at a time instead of having to pass multiple trucks at the same time. In addition to the heavy traffic, the highway is often full of deep potholes and attempting to avoid the potholes is a major cause of the accidents.