The Easter road crash and fatality rates have been released 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.
“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,” explains Eugene Herbert, managing director of MasterDrive.
“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,” he added.
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.
Pre and post lockdown
“While the majority of South Africans are currently confined to their homes, there is another percentage that we rely on to deliver essential goods.”
Another statistic that was shared is that the majority of crashes involved pedestrians or were single-vehicle crashes.
“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,” says Herbert.
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. 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,” Herbert concludes.