At 31.9 for every 100,000 inhabitants, South Africa has the seventh highest number road deaths in the world, according to the latest report from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Using the statistics from the 2013 WHO Global Status Report on Road Safety, the Pulitzer Center developed the “Roads kill map”.
The interactive map colour-codes the number of per capita road deaths in each country for which the WHO had data and presents it as a heat map.
Road accident articles published on the Pulitzer Center website are also mapped according to the country the incident happened in.
Other data from the WHO report, such as a breakdown of accidents by vehicle type and the results of a law enforcement survey are shown, along with a caption for every country.
South Africa’s caption, for instance, is “South Africa has a national seat-belt law that applies to front and rear seat passengers, but on a scale of zero to 10, it rates a dismal 1 for enforcement.”
Data on the number of deaths by road user category in South Africa are left blank on the map; it is marked as “not available” in the WHO report.
However, the survey results on law enforcement are shown.
Speed enforcement in South Africa received 3/10 and the WHO showed that we’re among a number of African, South American, Asian, and Middle Eastern countries that do not have comprehensive urban speed laws.
Despite South Africa showing up as strict on drunk driving in law with a blood alcohol concentration legal limit of 0.05g/dl, enforcement was rated 2/10. The WHO report said that data from MEDSA showed that 55% of road accidents in South Africa are caused by drunk driving.
South Africa rated better on motorcycle helmets, with WHO saying that a comprehensive helmet law and standard was in place, while enforcement received 6/10.
We are also among the many countries with laws that require child restraints and that all occupants in a car wear a seat belt, but as noted by the Pulitzer Center we scored a dismal 1/10 on enforcement.
The WHO stated in its report that seat belts reduce the risk of a fatal injury by up to 50% for front seat occupants and up to 75% for rear seat occupants.
South Africa also has national child restraint laws, but there we score a paltry 1/10 on enforcement.
Based on the road deaths per 100,000 people statistics collected by the WHO, the top 10 countries with the highest death tolls were:
- Niue: 68.3
- Dominican Republic: 41.7
- Thailand: 38.1
- Venezuela: 37.2
- Iran: 34.1
- Nigeria 33.7
- South Africa: 31.9
- Iraq: 31.5
- Guinea-Bissau: 31.2
- Oman: 30.4
It’s worth noting that the WHO highlighted the newest official data it has for South Africa is from 2009.
However, it has pegged the number of reported deaths from crashes during 2010 in South Africa at 14,804 and estimates that the total number of deaths that year due to road accidents was 15,995.