The safety of our roads is something we depend upon every day, trusting that the drivers around us care as much as we do about arriving at their destination unharmed. Yet in South Africa, this trust has largely broken down amidst an epidemic of dangerous driving. Reckless, impaired, and unqualified drivers are wreaking havoc on the streets, driving in unsafe vehicles, and posing a potentially deadly threat to themselves and everyone around them.
In the past, we’ve seen passenger and pedestrian fatalities spiral out of control as our roads have gotten more well-travelled—and a person in South Africa is over twice as likely to be killed in a traffic accident than someone in the United States, which in comparison, has almost 17 times1 the roads (in km) than South Africa does. This remarkably inflated risk is driven by a pervasive culture of disregard for motor vehicle laws, and for the safety of others. Out of 46 million South Africans, only 16% have a valid license—then there are the 1 million people that have chosen to obtain fraudulent licenses, by skipping the qualifying exams and just paying a nominal fee upfront are skirting by without proper driving education. It is driver’s education that teaches the public about risks involved when speeding, keeps the students informed on road laws, and ensures that each person is aware and responsible for their driving behaviours. The lack of proper licensing is just one small element of South Africa’s road hazards: drivers must deal with poorly maintained roads, inclement weather, and their own unsafe cars. Unsafe cars that have been poorly maintained put travellers at risk of burst tyres, faulty steering, and failed brakes. Altogether, these factors have contributed to thousands of fatal accidents each year, and many more in which people are severely injured. Read on, and you’ll find out how to improve your own driving and vehicle, and possibly help educate others to how dangerous the roads truly are.
Article Citation 1. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2085.html