Overview of road safety prepared by hippo.co.za, South Africa’s leading comparison website that compares car insurance, personal financial products and more - in conjunction with Arrive Alive.
Collisions on the road are said to increase from the first week in December and, with Christmas knocking at the door, every precaution should be taken to ensure road safety this festive season. Your safety on the road isn’t only in the hands of traffic and transport officials.
As a driver, the onus is on you to make the effort to be more alert on the roads, especially during this time. It was noted that despite a year-long safety awareness program that the government had rolled out, only a slight decrease was evident in the number of fatalities on the roads. There is still work to be done to address this situation and it may take years, but the important thing is that problem areas be identified and remedied accordingly.
Road Accident Rate 2012
A preliminary report of the road accident rate during the festive season in 2012 suggested that 1465 fatalities occurred during this period. However, after a recount 30 days later, the recorded road accident rate for this period tallied up to 1771 fatalities. Despite the various initiatives embarked upon by government to reduce the accident rate during this period, the report clearly demonstrates that road safety continues to be a major issue that needs to be addressed and readdressed.
Roads Known for Fatalities
There are a number of roads in South Africa that are known for having a particularly high rate of fatalities. The inference can be made that those traveling in and out of bigger cities during the festive season, are at higher risk of road accidents.
- The R61, leading onto the N2 in the Eastern Cape
- The R573 via Moloto between KwaMhlanga and Pretoria
- The N1 in Limpopo to and from Musina
- N3 in KwaZulu-Natal between Mooiriver and Durban
Roads with Increased Levels of Traffic: Festive Season Report (2011/2012)
It goes without saying that traffic levels are likely to increase during this period, due to businesses closing shop, the start of the school holidays as well as an influx in the tourism industry during the summer months in South Africa.
The N3 in KwaZulu-Natal has been reported as a dangerous route to travel, specifically the part between Mooiriver and Durban. Individuals that are aged 25 are considered to be at a higher risk of fatal accidents on this route.
The biggest increases in traffic during the festive season may be found on the following roads:
- Main routes leading out of Gauteng: The N1; northbound and southbound
- N3 going towards KwaZulu-Natal
- N4 going towards Mpumalanga: experiences the highest increase in traffic volume
Besides the end of the school year and businesses closing shop, a number of migrant workers return to their families during this time, stately and regional gatherings too contribute towards an increase in traffic.
Most Common Accidents by Type
The road annual safety report outlines the statistics of the road accidents that popularly take place during the festive season, as well as the amount of fatalities and injuries during the festive season specifically from 01 December 2012 -08 January 2013. Sourced from ’The Road Traffic Management Corporation’ (RTMC) the collision types most commonly experienced during the festive season are demonstrated below.
Leading causes of accidents
- Impaired driving (drunk, fatigue)
- Reckless driving
- Vehicle defects (un-roadworthy vehicles)
- Pedestrian negligence
- Driving while distracted
The abuse of alcohol by both drivers and pedestrians is, unfortunately, still a problem and a contributing factor to fatalities on the roads. Speeding when not entirely necessary, especially in undesirable weather conditions, is another leading cause of carnage on the roads. The combination of dangerous and inconsiderate driving habits are additional contributors to the rise in fatalities during the festive season, making it a hot topic which needs to be considered amongst road users.
The fatigue level of drivers and vehicle defects were also identified as potential culprits that played a role in bloodshed on the roads. In turn, road users with un-roadworthy vehicles are beseeched to ensure that their vehicles go in for servicing, so as to identify any vehicle issues that need to be remedied accordingly before leaving on their travels. Pedestrians need to be cautious during this time as well, as they are particularly at risk. Whether it’s due to their own negligence or not, more than 40 percent of fatalities on the road are suffered by these pedestrians. Distracted driving is another problem area which we are all guilty of. Practicing caution when driving is of utmost importance and being alert on the roads plays a significant part in preventing the likelihood of accidents on the road.
Despite the many campaigns to advocate and reinforce the importance of taking the necessary safety precautions when driving, drivers do not appear to understand the need to practice safety techniques. There are a vast number of SA motorists that are still not cooperating with traffic officials, creating a dangerous and competitive atmosphere of ‘every man for himself’.
It appears that the Department of Transport may need to explore new methods of enforcing their mandate that motorists wear their safety belts. A large percentage of motorists are still taking to the road while failing to wear their safety belts. Non-compliance with this rule has been identified as a leading cause of fatalities on the roads, and adhering to this regulation needs to be impressed upon motorists.
Besides simply being cautious when driving, especially on national arterial roads, there are a number of additional factors to be considered when pulling out of the garage that may not always be factored in. Following news and traffic reports stands to be substantially beneficial as this will arm you with the necessary information to avoid trouble spots. Tuning into your favourite radio station can also aid the process of avoiding sitting in traffic, with regular news and traffic reports. This could save you a bit of time and enable you to alter your travel route accordingly.
We hope that we have given you some food for thought and that, fellow drivers and road users will take to heart that bloodshed on the road can be minimized if we all do our bit. Lives are at stake and if you don’t care for the safety of others think of the people that love, care for and depend on you. No matter how adept you may be as a driver it’s essential to remember that there will be hundreds of other people on the roads who may not be as confident. Speeding and being generally inattentive to others could lead you to make an error which could cost you far more than you’re willing to pay. Stay safe this festive season and be kind to one another out there.