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Business for Road Safety

Road Safety: Motor Vehicle Accidents and Causes

As part of the Department of Transport (DoT) Transport Month in October 2016, the SAIA issued a media release calling road users to be aware of distractions on the road. This was in support of the DoT initiatives which strive to reduce the number of crashes accidents and road fatalities on our roads.

This was followed up with further news articles up to the December 2016 holiday season, published in relevant publications about our shared concern with the frequency and severity of motor vehicle crashes accidents in South Africa.

It is estimated that between 85 and 90 per cent of road accidents can be attributed to the behaviour of drivers. These include driver recklessness such as speeding, failing to wear seat belts, lacking the right child restraints and distractions while driving. Of great concern is the increase in the number of accidents caused by preoccupied driving. Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. These include using a cell phone, eating and drinking, grooming, talking to passengers, using a navigation system, adjusting a radio, CD player or MP3 player. South Africa also has a high drunk driving related death toll, according to the Global Status Report on Road Safety for 2015 from the World Health Organization (WHO). While many South Africans still think it is acceptable to have a few drinks before getting behind the wheel, the reality is that doing so is both illegal, irresponsible and a very real danger to other road users.

Cost of Motor Vehicle Crashes in South Africa

In 2016 the SAIA responded to a request from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for motor insurers to share information on motor insurance claims. The CSIR was commissioned to compile a study on behalf of the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC).

The aim of the study was to understand the cost to the national economy due to motor vehicle accidents and related death/injuries of people.

The RTMC report was released in October 2016 and includes a number of interesting information. The report has been circulated to all SAIA members and related committees and is also available on the RTMC’s website.

 Below are some of the key statistics:

Number of Road Traffic Crashes (RTCs) for 2015 (adjusted)

  Fatal Major Minor Damage only Total
Number of RTCs

11, 144

40,117 132, 609 648, 560 832, 431
   Death  Serious  Slight  No Injury  Total
 Number of persons  13,591  62,520  202,509  1, 429, 794  1,708, 414


  Total Cost of RTCs (R million)

Cost Category




Damage only

Total %

Human Casualty Costs

58, 332






Vehicle Repair Costs

218 809





Incident Costs







Total Costs 60,569 30,716





The total cost of RTCs on South Africa’s road network for 2015 amounted to an estimated R142.95 billion - equating 3.4% of GDP.

Although it is difficult to directly benchmark South Africa’s performance against other countries as costing methodologies differ from country to country, it is clear that South Africa is not performing favorably. The average cost of RTCs in comparable low- and middle-income countries is 2.2 per cent of their GDP while the average for high-income countries is 2.6 per cent of their GDP (varying between 1.0 and 4.6 per cent).

For more information contact: Nico Esterhuizen on