Jaco Van Der Merwe
Head of Motoring
3 minute read
17 Mar 2021
10:54 am

It’s official: SA’s roads the most dangerous in the world

Jaco Van Der Merwe

More than half of road accident deaths are related to alcohol.

Picture: iStock

What has always been evident judging by the high annual road death toll has now been confirmed: South Africa’s roads are the world’s most dangerous to drive on.

South Africa ranked dead last out of 56 countries in a research study of the world’s safest roads conducted by Zutobi, a driver’s education company based in the United Kingdom.

And by some margin too, only managing to score 3.23 out of 10, more than a point behind second-from-last Thailand, who managed 4.35 out of 10.

Rounding off the top five countries with the most dangerous roads to drive on is the United States in third place (5.09), Argentina (5.10) and India (5.10).

The analysis was based on the number of deaths on the roads, deaths related to alcohol, maximum speed limits, the percentage of vehicle occupants wearing safety belts and the maximum allowed blood concentration in each country.

The alcohol factor

The major contributors to South Africa’s dire picture were the numbers of annual road deaths, the number of deaths related to alcohol and the country’s poor seat-belt wearing rate.

According to the World Health Organisation’s Global Health Observatory data repository, 25.9 out of every 100 000 of South Africa’s population lose their lives on the road each year. That is second only to Thailand, a country in which 32.7 out of every 100 000 people die on the road each year.

The Global Health Observatory data repository also shows that 57.5% of the annual road toll in South Africa is related to alcohol. This is shockingly high compared to the others and places SA miles ahead of second-place Republic of Ireland, a country in which 38.5% of road deaths are related to alcohol. The top five on the list of highest alcohol-related road deaths are Cuba (33.3%), Slovenia (32%) and Costa Rica (31.2%).

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A shocking statistic to emerge from the research is that only 31% of front occupants wear seat belts in South Africa. The seven countries showing an even poorer seat-bet wearing rate is Bolivia (3.5%), India (7.25%), China (7.25%), Peru (18.25%), North Macedonia (19.8%), Ecuador (26%) and Cuba (30%).

South Africa’s current blood alcohol concentration limit for drivers of 0.05g/dl is also jointly the second highest on the list, with only Malyasia, the US, the UK and Guyana allowing a higher limit of 0.08. Hungary is the only country that featured in the research with a zero limit, a limit that is due to also come into effect locally later this year.

The US’ lenient drink-drive policy, along with certain highways’ speed limits of up to 137 km/h contributed to the country poor rating.

Scoring an impressive 8.21 out of 10, the research found Norway the safest country to drive in. In Norway, only 2.7 people out of every 100 000 die in road accident every year, the county has a safety belt wearing rate of 95.2% and only 13% of road deaths are related to alcohol. Norway is followed by Japan (7.89), Sweden (7.87), Estonia (7.84) and Iceland (7.81).

To view the full results, click here: https://zutobi.com/us/the-worlds-safest-roads

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