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Men and women – South African drivers the deadliest in the world

Research by Australia’s Compare the Market has determined that South African drivers cause the highest number of deadly car crashes, regardless of their gender.

For every 100,000 people in the country, male drivers are responsible for 34.9 fatal accidents and female drivers 9.9.

This works out to an average of 44.8 fatalities per 100,000 citizens as a result of car crashes – worse than other third-world nations such as Columbia, India, and Brazil, despite the latter being flagged for “large potholes, mud pits, and roads at risk of flooding” by Compare the Market.

At the other end of the spectrum, the United Kingdom ranked first for both genders at 4.8 and 1.6 deaths per 100,000 people, respectively.

“With a national speed limit of 70 miles per hour which goes down to 30 in built-up areas, this could explain why, regardless of gender, British drivers are some of the safest in the world,” said the company.

Compare the Market determined these statistics by looking at the mortality rates of vehicle accidents per 100,000 people in 20 countries around the globe, according to the gender of the driver responsible for the incident.

The full list of countries on review can be found in the following infographic:

A national crisis

Compare the Market’s research echoes comments recently made by civil rights group the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa), which called the high number of road deaths in the country a “national crisis.”

In 2021, South Africa experienced 12,545 road deaths with a large number of these being pedestrians, equating to 34 fatalities per day as a result of vehicle accidents.

Outa has accused the Department of Transport of not living up to its promise as outlined in the 2016-2030 National Road Safety Strategy, which aims to reduce road fatalities by 50% by the end of the decade.

This is the same goal as in the United Nations’ second Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030 strategy, to which South Africa is a signatory.

Despite this, the country has an exceptionally-high crash rate compared to international standards and frequently fails to implement the best practices in road safety, said Outa’s senior legal project manager Andrea van Heerden.

Van Heerden highlighted four key areas in which road safety is lacking in South Africa, which are:

  • Vehicle and driver fitness
  • Communication and public education
  • Traffic law enforcement and law compliance
  • Infrastructure, management, and information systems

Many fatal incidents are a result of speeding, the poor state of the roads, and unlicenced drivers who do not know or follow the law.

To put an end to the carnage, Outa notes that government should implement strategies such as increased visible policing, educating the public on the seriousness of their actions, designing a framework for regular collection and reporting of road traffic crash data, developing a national strategy with measurable targets to reduce road fatalities, and holding accountable those in charge when goals are not met.

“Without such indicators, policymakers and other stakeholders cannot assess the effectiveness of policies and interventions or identify the measures that still need to be taken,” said Van Heerden.

“Outa firmly believes that all these measures are crucial components of a sustainable response to road safety. Anything less will continue to see this injustice to South Africans continue unabated.”

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