The most dangerous roads in South Africa – and what makes them so deadly

Road safety group Arrive Alive has published a list of the most dangerous roads in South Africa, broken down by province.

According to the AA, the data has been gathered from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), and is shared with the intention of informing parents and other road users who may be taking these routes during the winter school holidays.

The roads listed below are the 20 most dangerous based on the number of deaths that have occurred on the routes, as identified by the RTMC.

Building on the data, Arrive Alive has split the routes provincially, while also detailing what makes the routes so dangerous.

“You certainly shouldn’t be fearful when driving across our beautiful country, but you should be aware of where accidents tend to occur. This way, you can be watchful while driving or plan an alternative route,” it said.

These are the top 20 most dangerous routes identified by the RTMC at the end of 2017.

Ranking Route Number Location
1 N2 East London – Umtata
2 N2 Umtata – Kokstad
3 N1 Mokopane – Polokwane
4 N2 Polokwane – Makhado
5 N4 Middelberg – Belfast
6 N2 Durban – Tongaat
7 N12 Springs – Witbank
8 R573 Pretoria – Kwamhlanga
9 N1 Nabommspruit – Mokopane
10 R71 Polokwane – Tzaneen
11 R40 Hazyview – Hoedspruit
12 R61 Port St Johns – Bizana
13 N2 Cape Town – Somerset West
14 N2 King Williams Town – East London
15 R61 Queenstown – Umtata
16 N3 Warden – Villiers
17 N4 Waterval Boven – Nelspruit
18 R573 Moloto Road
19 N14 Coligny – Biesiesvlei
20 N17 Leandra – Ermelo

Below, this is how these routes are split across South Africa’s provinces – and why the roads made the list to begin with.


Eastern Cape

The Eastern Cape is home to four of the worst stretches of road identified by the RTMC. This includes the so-called “highway to hell” (the N2 from East London to Mthatha).

Some of the major risks on these routes include high traffic volumes, negligent driving and animals on the road.

  • N2 from East London to Mthatha

Ranked as the worst road in South Africa due to the number of recorded deaths. Frequently referred to as the “highway to hell”.

  • N2 from Mthatha to Kokstad

Ranked second worst in the country. Deadly due to animals on the road, high traffic volumes, and negligent driving.

  • R61 from Port St. Johns to Bizana

Ranked 12th due to the fact that this 148km drive is reportedly quite busy with holidaymakers and the risk of animals on the road.

  • N2 from King Williams Town to East London

Ranked 14th overall due to the risk of cattle on the road and various unofficial side roads entering the highway.

  • R61 from Queenstown to Mthatha

Features a high number of fatalities, which are largely the result of negligent driving, weather conditions (heavy mist), and animals on the road.


KwaZulu Natal

KwaZulu-Natal is a popular destination for holidaymakers, and often sees heavy traffic during school holidays and over the festive season. Two routes feature among the worst in the country.

  • N2 from Mthatha to Kokstad

This stretch of road is split between the Eastern Cape and KZN, thus features on both lists. Deadly due to animals on the road, high traffic volumes, and negligent driving.

  • N2 from Durban to Tongaat

Ranked 6th worst overall. 42 deaths were recorded on the route in a single year.


Limpopo

Limpopo is home to six of the most dangerous roads in the country. Most of the deaths on the routes relate to accidents as a result of negligent driving.

  • N1 from Mokopane to Polokwane

This road ranks 3rd overall due to the incredibly high number of road accidents and fatalities.

  • N2 from Polokwane to Makhado

As the longest national road with a high number of road accident claims and deaths.

  • N1 from Naboomspruit to Mokopane

Ranked 9th overall due to the fact that accidents are regularly reported on this stretch.

  • R71 from Polokwane to Tzaneen

Ranked 10th overall because on this 94.9km stretch of road the RTMC reported a high number of road accidents claims.

  • R40 from Hazyview to Hoedspruit

Coming in at 11th overall, this road makes the list for Limpopo because the route ends in Hoedspruit.

  • R573 Moloto Road

Formerly called a road of death before major upgrades started in 2016, motorists now have a habit of disobeying traffic calming measures which has caused many accidents and put this road in 18th position.


Mpumalanga

Mpumalanga also has six of the most dangerous roads in the country, sharing many with other provinces. The routes see high traffic volumes from motorists travelling to other provinces, and as they head to the Kruger National Park.

  • N4 from Middelberg to Belfast

46 deaths were recorded in a single year, causing this long road to earn 5th place overall.

  • N12 from Springs to Witbank

This length of road ranks 7th overall because of the high number of deaths, which have largely been attributed to human error.

  • R573 from Pretoria to Kwamlhanga

Ranked 8th overall due to the shockingly high total of deaths on this relatively short trip of around 93.8km.

  • N4 from Waterval Boven to Nelspruit

There’s a steep pass on this stretch, coupled with ongoing roadworks that have caused enough accidents for this road to rank 17th.

  • R573 Moloto Road

This super long road is in 18th position. It’s known for being busy with taxis and buses, and prior to the upgrades there were few overtaking opportunities.

  • N17 from Leandra to Ermelo

With high volumes of mining trucks and other traffic, this road ranks 20th on the list for the number of accidents and fatalities that occur.


Free State

The Free State is fairly flat and doesn’t have too many road dangers, however one route does experience high traffic volumes, with trucks and busses.

  • N3 from Warden – Villiers

Ranks 16th overall as a result of the number of road accidents.


North West

The North West has one dangerous road among the top 20.

  • N14 from Coligny to Biesiesvlei

Although it only ranks 19th and is just 47.1km long, the road is reportedly not in the best condition and can be a bit hazardous as a result.


Gauteng

Gauteng is South Africa’s most populous province and thus will naturally experience higher incidents of accidents. However, it is more known for its traffic congestion than its fatal accidents, with only three routes identified among the worst by the RTMC.

  • N12 from Springs to Witbank

This length of road ranks 7th overall with a high number of deaths, which have largely been reported as a result of weather conditions (mist in particular) and human error (speeding and dangerous overtaking).

  • R573 from Pretoria to Kwamhlanga

This stretch of 93.8km makes the list at 8th overall due to a high total of deaths, which is often caused by high traffic volumes and negligent driving.

  • R573 Moloto Road

This road connects Gauteng with Limpopo and Mpumalanga so it features on all three lists.


Western Cape

The Western Cape is a popular holiday destination, with Cape Town and surrounds known for high traffic volumes. The city itself is more known for traffic congestion than fatal accidents – but one route is highlighted among the top 20.

  • N2 from Cape Town to Somerset West

In spite of only measuring 45.5km, this road ranks 13th overall due to the number of fatal crashes which are mostly the result of human error and high traffic volumes.


Read: The traffic department wants to introduce these new policies on SA roads

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The most dangerous roads in South Africa – and what makes them so deadly