Wet roads, bad visibility major causes of fatal accidents - report

According to a report by the RTMC, wet roads and poor visibility contribute to more than 27% of all fatal accidents. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi African News Agency (ANA)

According to a report by the RTMC, wet roads and poor visibility contribute to more than 27% of all fatal accidents. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi African News Agency (ANA)

Published Nov 11, 2022


Pretoria - Wet roads and poor visibility contribute to more than 27% of all fatal accidents in the country.

Citing a report compiled by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), the head of DialDirect Insurance, Anneli Retief, said there was “definitely an increase” in vehicle accidents during rainy weather.

According to Retief, this is mainly attributed to wet roads, poor visibility and failure by motorists to adjust their driving to wet weather conditions.

“Adopting a proactive approach to wet weather, driving safely, making sure that your vehicle is up to the task, and adjusting your driving behaviour, is absolutely vital,” said Retief.

She said the rainy weather also resulted in the proliferation of potholes, putting even more strain on the fragile road infrastructure.

“A pothole is a depression or a hollow in a road surface. They form when moisture or water seeps below the surface of the road. The moisture then freezes and expands or heats up and contracts, causing stress to the asphalt. Combine the asphalt fatigue with wet weather conditions and you have the perfect recipe for potholes."

According to the RTMC report, a total of 10 607 fatal crashes were recorded in 2021 compared to 8 405 in 2020 – an increase of 26%.

An increase of 20% has been recorded for fatalities as well, with absolute figures ranging from 9 969 in 2020 to 12 541 fatalities in 2021.

A total number of 104 fatal crashes, and 653 fatalities and 649 injuries were recorded for the period under review, the report said.

This indicated that there were more people on the roads, they said, adding: “Between December 31, 2020, and December 31, 2021, the number of registered vehicles increased by 259 475 (2.04%) from 12 697 733 to 12 957 208 vehicles. The number of learners’ driving licences issued increased by 131 384 (13.83%) from 950 231 to 1 081 615.

“The number of driving licences issued increased by 497 413 (3.57%) from 13 918 881 to 14 416 294, as well as the number of professional driving permits issued, by 100 047 (7.97%) from 1 255 194 to 1 355 241.”

Jaywalking and hit-and-run accidents remained a challenge, with jaywalking contributing to 28% of accidents in 2021 as compared to 31% in 2020. A slight increase of 4% was observed for hit-and-run accidents.

Both factors contributed 52% to 2021 road accidents.

For environmental factors, most crashes occurred due to sharp bends and poor visibility during 2021, with at least 4% reduction recorded for sharp bends.

“Similarly, decreases of 3% and 2% have been observed for the road surface being wet and the road surface being poor.”

Vehicle factors, the report said, saw that most crashes occurred due to tyre bursts before the crash, with a contribution of 48% during 2020 and 41% in 2021. “However, a significant decrease of 7% has been recorded in this regard.”

This was followed by faulty brakes, with a contribution of 18% during 2021 as compared to 15% recorded in the previous year.

With everything stated, Retief advised people to keep an eye on the weather forecast and look out for warnings of heavy rains, hail and high winds, and avoid danger areas where possible.

She said: “It is advisable to have all emergency numbers, including that of your insurer, saved on your phone. There must be a conscious effort to adjust your speed and following distance, allowing cars enough distance to stop on wet roads.

“We can avoid carnage on our roads, but it’ll require a proactive effort from all South African road users. So make a conscious effort to buckle up, take it slow and take extra precautions when driving in the wet.

“In the event that the unforeseen does happen, it’s wise to ensure that you have comprehensive insurance in place.”

Pretoria News