The cities with the worst traffic in South Africa – and where the most dangerous roads are

 ·12 Dec 2021

Inrix has published its Global Traffic Scorecard for 20201 highlighting those cities that struggle the most when it comes to traffic congestion, including several cities in South Africa.

The location-based data and analytics firm said the scorecard is based on more than 10 months of data, extrapolated to an annual number. The scorecard also incorporates three years of historical data to provide a complete year-over-year comparison of congestion and mobility.

A multi-year approach enables the identification of trends in the world’s largest cities and provides a basis for comparison. Overall, congestion increased significantly over last year in most cities, yet is still below 2019 levels, the firm said.

Twenty months after Covid-19 spread across the world, many employers continued “work from home” policies, people migrated to less-dense areas and governments around the world imposed, lifted and reimposed lockdowns to limit the spread of the contagious Delta variant.  Vaccination access and uptake varied considerably by country, leading to inconsistent travel.

While travel habits shifted closer to “normal” behaviour following 2020, most modes still lagged pre-Covid levels. Driving fell significantly in 2020, dropping 40% in April 2020, but rebounded by the end of the year.

In most cities, delays increased significantly from their lows in 2020, but the vast majority have yet to reach 2019 levels. Recreational cycling grew in many cities, though many saw a decrease in commuter-based cycling as employees worked from home or suffered job loss.

The data shows that London (148 hours lost), Paris (140), Brussels (134), Moscow (108) and New York (102) are the most congested cities, due to their large populations and the significant return of the evening commute.

South Africa

Inrix found that Cape Town remains the most congested city in the country, ranking 59th globally. This equates to a -53% drop in traffic compared to pre-Covid-19 statistics.

Johannesburg was second, and 48th globally, with a -36% drop in traffic compared to pre-Covid-19 data. Port Elizabeth (now Gqeberha), Pretoria and Pietermaritzburg round out the top five.

The data showed that Capetonians can expect to lose 59 hours in traffic annually, far more than in Joburg (48 hours), and Port Elizabeth (41 hours).

Most dangerous roads 

Separate data published by the Road Traffic Management Corporation and the Road Accident Fund details the most dangerous roads in South Africa for accidents.

The December holiday season is historically one of the busiest times of the year for road travel, with 2021 likely to see increased traffic volumes as South Africans are limited domestically due to international travel restrictions.

Schools across South Africa close for the festive season break on 15 December and traffic on the country’s major routes is expected to increase significantly from then on, the Automobile Association (AA) said.

The Road Accident Fund’s data shows that South Africa’s most dangerous roads are in the Eastern Cape, notably the stretch of the N2 national highway between East London and Kokstad.

The N1 in Limpopo connecting Mokopane and Makhado also sees a high number of incidents, it said.

“Driving is not only about having a vehicle which is in a safe condition, but also about having a positive attitude behind the wheel,” the AA said.

“Getting enough rest before embarking on a long ride, obeying the rules of the road, and being courteous to other drivers is equally important. With our country’s annual high rate of crashes and fatalities, it’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure they play their part in making our roads safer.”

Read: How to renew your car licence faster in South Africa

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