How to assess Easter road fatalities


The Easter road crash and fatality rates were released this morning and unsurprisingly, the numbers are some of the best South Africa has seen. Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula noted that the decrease can be attributed to the reduction in traffic due to the lockdown.


If, however, we were to compare the crash and fatality rates based on the percentages that they increased or decreased, we could paint a picture of the difference between 2019 and 2020. The managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, explains: “According to the minster, there were 70% less movement on the roads this year. Yet, the decrease in fatalities was approximately 82%, this is 12% higher than the decrease in traffic.


“While, this is by no means a formal statistical analysis, it could suggest that there has been some improvement. The reason for this can also be related to the lockdown, for example, emptier roads and less reckless and dangerous drivers. The number of drivers that were arrested only decreased by an impressive 44%. This may be in part due to a higher police presence on the roads than in previous years.”


As only essential service drivers were allowed to travel between provinces, it is possible that companies selected to put their better skilled drivers on the road. “Of course, many of the companies operating may well have robust HSE policies which see the necessity of training. It is for this reason that MasterDrive has ensured that drivers can still complete the theoretical part of their training while lockdown is in place, before competing their certification in a practical session once it is lifted.


“While the majority of South Africans are currently confined to their homes, there is another percentage that we rely on to deliver essential goods. As such, MasterDrive is ensuring we can still train these drivers within the confines of the lockdown and ensure they travel the roads during this time as safely as possible.”


Another statistic that was shared is that the majority of crashes involved pedestrians or were single-vehicle crashes. “This supports the emphasis that MasterDrive places on identifying your own faults as a driver and making the necessary changes. The only way to change the driving habits of the entire country is to start with the individual.


“The single-vehicle crashes may also be as a result of obstacles in the road that may not have been there if the roads were busier. With as many people as possible on lockdown (and high rainfall in parts of the country) maintenance of the road and trimming of roadside hedges may not be taking place as needed. The key, is to drive looking 12 seconds ahead of you and identify any obstacle that could be dangerous. Do not always assume, that this is limited to other drivers only.”


While, this year’s statistics were drastically skewed due to the lockdown, looking at it from another perspective does provide some information. “Unfortunately, lives were still lost and MasterDrive would like to give their condolences to affected families. For those planning on enjoying the long weekend that comes right after lockdown is due to end, remember to drive defensively and safely so that we do not undo some of the positive news we have had during this time.”


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