Study reveals cause of single vehicle road accidents

Journalist Blake Linder demonstrates the danger of driving while texting. Photo: Siso Naile. (Web photo)


Distractions are one of the leading causes of single vehicle road crashes among young drivers, according to an international study published on World Freeways.

The study found that young people between the ages of 18 and 24 were twice as likely to be involved in a single vehicle crash than those in the 25 to 49 age group.

Although alcohol and speeding are among the leading factors in South Africa’s road crashes, the use of cellphones while driving is one of the top causes of driver distraction, said Liam Clarke, commercial manager of the Bakwena N1-N4 Toll Road Concessionaire.

Also Read: Accident on Christiaan de Wet Road leaves one critically injured

“It takes about four seconds to read a text on our phones, and another five to reply. That’s about nine seconds with your eyes off the road. Nine seconds on the road is a long time. Couple this with bad weather, poor visibility, speed or alcohol and you have a disaster waiting to happen,” said Clarke.

According to the International Transport Forum’s 2013 Road Safety Annual Report, South Africa has one of the highest road crash rates in the world, with about 25 per cent of those crashes caused by the use of cellphones while driving.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) reported 14 071 road fatalities in South Africa in 2016, a nine per cent increase compared to 2015.

In that same period, South African road crashes and fatalities cost the economy R143 billion or 3,4 per cent of the country’s GDP, Clarke said.

Echoing the sentiments of the international trends, the RTMC found that human factors were the biggest contributors to road fatalities, with human error accounting for 77,5 per cent of all crashes. Vehicle factors account for a mere six per cent of all accidents, while road and environmental factors constitute 16,5 per cent of the causes.

Clarke added that road crashes can also have a socio-economic impact beyond the victims of the crashes.

“Looking outside of statistics and figures, we must remember that road crashes can lead to victims being disabled and, in turn, losing employment or an income.

The death of a breadwinner could result in the rest of the family living in poverty or negatively affecting the psyche of family and friends,” Clarke added.

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