JOHANNESBURG - It’s no secret that South Africa’s roads are a very dangerous place to be, but a new study shows that according to a certain set of criterias the country actually has the most dangerous roads in the world.
The analysis by Zutobi factored in criteria such as the number of road deaths as well as maximum speed limits and the number of people who wear a seatbelt, to calculate a score out of 10. South Africa fared the worst here, with an overall score of just 3.23, followed by Thailand (4.35), the United States (5.09) and well as India and Argentina (both tied at 5.10).
However, if one looks at the number of traffic deaths as a percentage of the population, which ultimately determines your odds, South Africa is not the deadliest country in the world, according to estimated data published by Zutobi.
Thailand actually records the most deaths per 100 000 of the population, at 32.7, while South Africa follows in second place with 25.9 deaths. SA is followed by Malaysia (23.6), India (22.6) and China (18.2). The US, by contrast, records just 12.4 deaths per 100K.
Unacceptable drunk driving rate
Another factor that counted against South Africa in the analysis was the extremely high ratio of fatal road accidents that involved alcohol, at 57.5 percent. Although South Africa is planning to reduce its permitted blood alcohol concentration to zero, there are doubts as to whether this will actually make a difference to the accident rate, given that enforcement of drunk driving laws remains a hurdle.
Interestingly, one of the reasons why the USA scored so low overall was because of its relatively lenient drunk driving laws, wherein motorists are permitted to have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08, versus the global norm of 0.03-0.05.
World’s safest countries
Norway emerged as the world’s safest country in which to drive, with an overall score of 8.21. The Scandinavian nation was followed by Japan (7.89), Sweden (7.87), Estonia (7.84) and Iceland (7.81). Norway also recorded the fewest deaths per 100 000 people, at just 2.7 - which is almost 10 times less than South Africa!
One of the reasons that Japan scored so highly was because 98 percent of its drivers and passengers choose to wear a seatbelt, while its deaths per 100K are also relatively low at 4.1.
Some tips for a safer journey
“The research highlights the countries who excel in road safety, as well as the ones that need drastic improvements. However, no matter where you’re driving, there are some universal tips you can follow to increase your safety,” said Zutobi co-founder Lucas Waldenback.
“Firstly, limit distractions. You’re 23 times more likely to have an accident when using your phone whilst driving, so make sure you put it away! This will enable you to be fully aware of your surroundings, which is another important factor of road safety.
“From obeying road signs and traffic lights, to respecting cyclists and looking out for pedestrians, being aware of your surroundings can prevent a large number of accidents from occurring.”
“Finally, ensure you know the laws and limits of the country you’re driving in. Speed limits are there for a reason and they shouldn’t be surpassed. It is also vital that your vehicle has regular professional inspections to ensure it is deemed safe to drive. We also recommend keeping equipment such as a warning triangle, hi-vis vest and a first aid kit in case any accidents do occur.”