Having a car accident is one of the most unfortunate things to happen in a person’s life. Although we try and obey road traffic rules and drive to the best of our ability, we may, unfortunately, encounter a situation that we can’t avoid.
South Africa has one of the poorest road safety records in the world, amounting to 1 million accidents being reported each year. In 2018 this cost the South African economy R164 Billion, which translates to 3.4% of the country’s GDP. That is 1.4% higher than the international benchmark. 1
Let’s have an in-depth look at what would be the common causes and how we could prevent them.
WHY DO CAR CRASHES HAPPEN?
- Drunken Driving
South Africa’s legal blood alcohol limit is 0.05g per 100ml. In layman’s terms that would mean one beer will reach that limit. 2
Alcohol can impair a person’s driving ability dramatically resulting in a possible car accident.
Talking on cell phones, texting, eating, applying make-up, setting GPS devices, etc. can result in you loosing concentration while driving. 25% of car accidents occur from cell phone usage alone. 3
- Speeding and Reckless Driving
Having no regard for the rules of the road, driving over the speed limit, not stopping at stop streets or robots or cutting in front of other cars while speeding can cause a lot of accidents.
According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation’s annual report in 2016, the death of pedestrians are the highest on our roads. 5410 deaths compared to 408 vehicle passengers and 360 drivers’ deaths. 4 The cause of this could be that they are distracted or not looking before they cross the road.
- Road and Weather Conditions
Bad road and weather conditions can result in car accidents. Damaged roads like potholes can cause your car to lose control. Bad weather like fog or heavy rainfall can impair your vision making it difficult to see while driving.
List of main environmental fatal accidents
- Very sharp bends.
- Impaired visibility.
- Wet and slippery conditions.
- Stray or wild animals that enter the road.
- Bad road surfaces.
- Bad lighting.
- Inadequate road markings and road signs.
- Blind corners.
- Blind rises or blind hills.
- Vehicle Maintenance
Always ensure that your car is well maintained especially when it comes to tyres and brakes. The vehicle’s tyres can burst, or brakes can fail, which would make you lose control of the car. Overloading your vehicle can also cause accidents.
WHEN ARE CAR CRASHES MOST LIKELY TO HAPPEN?
The most fatal accidents occurred in holiday seasons. In the month of December, most of these accidents occurred (11.2%) followed by May (9.2%), July (9.2%) and August (10.1%), according to study by the South African Journal of Science in 2015. 5
HOW CAN WE FIND WAYS TO PREVENT CAR ACCIDENTS?
- We can educate ourselves about road safety and become more aware of it as we drive on a daily basis.
- Law enforcement needs to be stricter concerning the rules of the road. Lawbreakers need to be dealt with more severely.
- Road infrastructure needs to be maintained better, potholes need to be fixed and road markings should be more visible.
- Vehicles should be maintained as needed and required by vehicle manufacturers.
HOW TO AVOID CAR ACCIDENTS?
- Pull into traffic slowly when driving.
- Be careful of stop street and red-light runners.
- Keep at least one hand on the cars steering wheel while driving at all times.
- Be aware of your surroundings, be observant of pedestrians.
- Make sure your car is well maintained.
- Keep a safe travelling distance from the car in front of you.
- When reversing, make sure to also look back while doing it.
- Be courteous of other road users while driving.
It is our responsibility as road users to take this information and use it to ensure that no more accidents and deaths occur on our roads. Let’s be more courteous of one another and not be the cause of another road accident or fatality.
Unfortunately, car accidents can’t always be avoided. So, it is recommended that South African motorists get affordable car insurance.
This article was prepared by Eric Sandmann in his personal capacity. The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views and opinions of Prime Meridian Direct (Pty) Ltd, FSP41040.The views and opinions in the article should not be attributed to anyone but the author unless expressly stated. Nothing in this article should be relied upon as advice, this publication is presented for informational purposes only. No person should act or refrain from acting in reliance on any information found in this article, without first obtaining proper financial advice from the appropriate professional. The author makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, or completeness, of any information linked from, referred to, or contained in this article. The author reserves the right, to edit and change the content of this article.