Kgomotso Phooko
2 minute read
10 May 2022
5:48 pm

Study claims SA most dangerous country to drive in, but claims are refuted

Kgomotso Phooko

Although the report ranks South Africa as the least safe country to drive in, Africa Check said the data is skewed

South Africa scored poorly for road traffic deaths attributed to alcohol. Photo: iStock

A recent study ranked South Africa as the most dangerous country to drive in, however, fact checking organisation Africa Check has refuted the claims.

The study, done by Zutobi, an online driver’s education company, scores South Africa poorly for drunk driving and people not wearing seat belts. South Africa was also ranked the most dangerous country to drive in last year.

The study scored each country out of 10, based on five factors:

  • estimated road traffic death rate,
  • maximum speed limit,
  • seat-belt wearing rate,
  • road traffic deaths attributed to alcohol, and
  • blood and alcohol (BAC) limit for drivers.

According to the study, there are 22.2 road traffic related deaths per 100,000 people in the country. The data also reveals that only 31% front-seat passengers wear their seatbelt in South Africa.

These are 2022’s five most dangerous countries to drive in:

RankCountryEstimated road traffic death rate (per 100,000 population)Maximum motorway speed limit (kph)Front seat-belt wearing rate (%)Road traffic deaths attributed to alcohol (%)Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for drivers (g/dl)Overall Score/ 10
1South Africa22.21203157.50.053.41
2Thailand32.21204014.10.054.35
3United States12.713090.1290.085.03
4Argentina14.113040.8170.055.06
5India15.61207.34.10.035.48
From Zutobi.

The study also ranks the safest countries to drive in. Norway has retained its number one spot from last year.

The country ranks highest for seat-belt use at 95.2% and has an overall safety driving score of 8.20.

Here are the four safest countries to drive in:

RankCountryEstimated road traffic death rate (per 100,000 population)Maximum motorway speed limit (kph)Front seat-belt wearing rate (%)Road traffic deaths attributed to alcohol (%)Blood  alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for drivers (g/dl)Overall Safety Driving Score/ 10
1Norway2.111095.2130.028.20
2Iceland29093140.058.05
3Estonia4.512097.3100.027.90
4Japan3.6120985.60.037.88
From Zutobi.

Africa Check says data is skewed

Zutobi’s claims are, however, being refuted by Africa Check. The fact checking organisation said the 2022 report was compiled using data from 2016. It also said the study only looked at 53 countries, of which only three were African.

Africa Check also alleged the Zutobi report was biased towards high-income countries – as low-income countries generally report higher rates of road traffic deaths. 

The organisation said if Zutobi had taken these extra factors were taken into account, South Africa’s road traffic safety would be “somewhere in the middle”.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story said SA is the most dangerous country to drive in. The article has since been updated with a report from Africa Check that states the claim is incorrect.