The most dangerous times on South African roads – and what’s killing people

Researchers from North West University have published a new study focusing on road fatalities in South Africa.

Published in the latest South African Journal of Science, the study focused on current fatality statistics, as well as current motoring trends.

Looking at the most recent data from 2015, the researchers found that 10,613 fatal accidents occurred from 1 January – 31 December – resulting in 12,994 fatalities.

Just over three out of every five (60.3%) of these accidents happened on a weekend (Fridays‚ Saturdays and Sundays) and around 40% occurred in the late afternoon/evening (16:00-22:00).

The month with the highest number of fatalities is December (11.2%) – likely due to the increased holiday traffic – with May (9.2%), July (9.2%), and August (10.1%) also boasting high fatality rates.

The following road and environmental conditions were listed as the main environmental reasons for fatal accidents (in descending order):

  • Sharp bends;
  • Poor visibility;
  • Wet and slippery road surfaces;
  • Stray or wild animals;
  • Poor road surfaces;
  • Poor lighting;
  • Road works;
  • Poor and inadequate road markings;
  • Blind corners.

Click on images to enlarge.


Human and vehicle factors

The researchers found that the majority of fatalities (78%) were male, black (81%), and pedestrians (37.7%).

Notably, of the 12,994 fatalities, 27% were drivers and two-thirds of these drivers were younger than 30 years old. The researchers said that this was likely due to the fact that younger drivers avoid/delay taking breaks, and also take more deliberate risks when compared to older drivers.

When looking at the vehicle statistics, almost half of the vehicles involved (48.5%), were motor cars, with bakkies second highest (18.4%).

Around 9% of fatalities are due to mini-bus taxis, with the researchers estimating that three of the 36 people killed every day on South African roads travel in mini-bus taxis.

The researchers noted that there are also an alarming number of unroadworthy vehicles in South Africa, with around one million cars deemed to be unfit currently using South Africa’s roads daily.


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The most dangerous times on South African roads – and what’s killing people