By Moses Akaigwe
A recent study undertaken by Zutobi Drivers Ed, an international driver education company, shows that South Africa is the world’s most unsafe country in which to drive.
Zutobi based their findings on various factors, such as the number of deaths on the roads, maximum speed limits, and the number of people who wear a seat-belt, to give South Africa the most infamous position.
There was no adverse mention of Nigeria in the study which may mean kudos to the country’s Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC).
The RSP says while it is common knowledge that road deaths in South Africa are disproportionately high, the results of this study are concerning. “While we already have the notorious reputation of 25.9 people per 100 000 dying in a car accident, gaining another reputation as the most dangerous place to drive is something the country should work to change.
“In the results of the study, South Africa did not actually have the highest number of road traffic deaths. The reason for the country’s position in the study is that we have the second highest number of deaths per 100,000 people and a high ratio of crashes that involved alcohol.”
Interestingly, many of South Africa’s road regulations are at par with the countries considered the safest places to drive. “The maximum speed limit is similar to the top five safest countries and the maximum blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is slightly higher or the same as these countries as well.
“The biggest difference was seen was in the number of people wearing safety belts. Where around 95 percent of front passengers in the safest countries wore seatbelts, not even one third of South African front passengers wear seatbelts. Additionally, even though the BAC is similar to many countries, the number of crashes involving drunk drivers was higher indicating a lack of respect for road regulation in South Africa.”
Something positive can be drawn from the study. “Much of what caused South Africa to become the most unsafe country in which to drive are things that can be changed. The study should motivate drivers to change the behaviour that resulted in South Africa becoming the most unsafe place to drive according to this study,” says the RSP.
Following South Africa on the “most dangerous” index are Thailand and USA, which along with the UK, is actually the country with the most lenient drink-drive policy, with drivers permitted up to 0.08g/dl of alcohol in their system, according to the study. India came in at the fourth place, according to the research study.
South Africans drive on the left side of the road with their vehicles’ steerings located on the right. This is usually a challenge for motoring journalists from countries that drive on the right side of the road, including Nigeria. However, it is usually exciting to test-drive on South Africa’s highways, because of the meticulous planning and professional execution of such road shows by the OEMs and their agencies.
Conversely, the safest roads in the world can be found in Norway which scored an impressive 8.21 out of 10, 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 percent and only 13 percent of road deaths are related to alcohol.
Norway is followed by Japan (7.89), Sweden (7.87), Estonia (7.84) and Iceland (7.81), as some of the safest countries to drive in.