Every single day in South Africa an estimated 36 lives are lost in car accidents. And while there are a number of traditional triggers, driving under the influence and speeding remain the most common causes of motor vehicle accidents.
Although human error is reported to be the sole cause of 57% of all accidents and the contributing factor in at least 90% of all incidents on the road, it can be broken down into a number of sub categories including drunk driving, speeding and driver fatigue.
Car accidents cost R35 billion annually
According to Arrive Alive South Africa, 90% of all crashes on our roads are due to lawlessness, an anomaly that costs the state, individuals and commerce an estimated R35 billion each year. These startling statistics are the ideal prompt for motor vehicle owners to ensure that they are adequately covered by car accident insurance, as there is a strong possibility of being involved in a road accident at some point in our lives. You may be an excellent driver, but one can never be sure about other drivers on the roads, of course.
The number of fatal accidents involving drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs continues to explode exponentially even though traffic authorities have escalated their road safety campaign, particularly over the holidays when road usage is at its peak. In 2004, for instance, 197 accidents were allegedly caused by driving drunk but two years later the figure had rocketed to 312 – an unacceptable 2.55% more drivers in fatal crashes were drunk!
80% of drivers over the speed limit
In South Africa, speeding is a particular problem with the vast majority of drivers simply ignoring the speed limits. In a recent case study in Mpumalanga, for instance, virtually 80% of all drivers were driving over the speed limit and this is not an isolated occurrence. Speeding and alcohol together are a deadly combination, and research conducted in the USA indicates that a much higher percentage of drunk drivers involved in deadly car accidents were also speeding.
Drowsiness a major cause of road fatalities
Although driver fatigue cannot be classified as lawlessness, it does fall under the category of driver negligence and it is assumed to be the primary contributing factor in literally thousands of accidents each year. The reason why the word ‘assumed’ is used here is because it is very difficult to prove driver fatigue.
In the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has claimed drowsiness as the overwhelming cause in 4% of all fatal road accidents and South Africa should fall within this category. Drivers tend to fall asleep or lose concentration on high-speed, long, boring stretches of road but there are simple ways of avoiding driver fatigue.
- Try and undertake long journeys with a passenger, preferably a chatty one who will act as a co-driver too
- Make sure you take regular stops, every two hours if possible, where you can stretch your legs, have a coffee or cold drink and a quick bite to eat
- Rather avoid medications when driving as many of them can cause drowsiness and never, ever consume alcohol when driving
Before you become another road accident statistic, follow the simple suggestions above, adhere to rules of the road and make sure you have adequate road accident insurance and you should enjoy incident-free driving for many years to come.