‘SA the most dangerous country in which to drive’

South Africa is the most dangerous country in which to drive, according to a survey by online driver’s education resource online Zutobi.

Zutobi analysed 53 countries on the following five factors:

  • The estimated number of road traffic deaths per 100 000 of the population;
  • The maximum speed limit for cars on motorways (km/h);
  • An estimate of the percentage of car occupants across both sexes who use a seatbelt while travelling in the front seats of a vehicle;
  • An estimate of the proportion of road traffic deaths which have been attributed to alcohol (over the national legal limit); and
  • The national maximum legal blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) level for the general population.

Each country was given a normalised score out of 10 for each factor, and an average score was calculated across all five factors.

South Africa scored 3.41 out of 10, the lowest of the countries in the 2022 survey.

It has the highest risk of a drink driving-related fatality, with the most alcohol-related road traffic deaths (57.5%) of the countries surveyed.

The country with the second-highest percentage of deaths attributed to alcohol was Ireland (38.5%), which was ranked 34th for overall safety.

There are an estimated 22.2 road traffic deaths per 100 000 of the population in South Africa, and only 31% of front-seat passengers are estimated to wear a seatbelt.

Thailand, the second-most dangerous country in which to drive (score of 4.35/10), has the most road traffic deaths among the countries surveyed, with 32.2 deaths per 100 000 people.

“With the vast amount of road traffic in the country, roads are mostly designed to accommodate large volumes of vehicles, with little emphasis on driving safety.”

Only 40% of front-seat travellers in cars are estimated to wear a seatbelt.

The US was ranked the third-most dangerous country for driving, with a score of 5.03/10. Some 29% of road deaths were attributed to alcohol.

Norway, with a score of 8.2, is the safest country in which to drive, with a road traffic death rate of only 2.1 per 100 000, while 95.2% of front-seat occupants report wearing their seatbelts while travelling.

Iceland, the second-safest country (8.05/10), has the lowest road traffic death rate: 2 per 100 000, and the number has been declining since 2019. Some 93% of front-seat occupants report wearing a seatbelt.

Estonia was ranked the third-safest country in which to drive, with a score of 7.9. The BAC limit for driving is 0.02% – as is the case in Norway – while 97.3% of front-seat occupants wear a seatbelt when travelling.

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