Wreckage on the N2 near the Mvoti Toll Plaza after a head-on collision between two vehicles. File image.
Image: IPSS

CRA Road Accidents & Public Safety News – South Africa  

BY Wendy Knowler

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Minibus taxis are involved in most serious accidents on SA’s roads, right? Wrong. Ordinary passenger cars and light delivery vehicles make up the biggest proportion of major collisions.

That’s according to renowned forensic accident investigator Craig Proctor-Parker, who this month released a report based on his analysis of more than 650 accident scenes between 2009 and 2016.

The largest proportion of accidents were caused by human factors, such as overtaking over a blind rise or in a curve.

Most driver deaths involved head-on or partial head-on collisions of passenger cars or light delivery vehicles (LDVs) travelling in the opposite direction on freeways in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape between 4pm and 8pm and with people aged between 20 and 39 at the wheel.

“The single vehicle, loss of control type crash is typically a crash resulting from excessive speed, allegations of tyre failure or run-off-road that could relate to falling asleep or distracted driving,” Proctor-Parker said.

Most passenger deaths occurred in minibus taxi accidents.

Founder and owner of the Durban-based company Accident Specialist, Proctor-Parker said he compiled the report to make the point that a database with indisputable evidence and an analytical “bread crumb trail” on the accidents was key to sound decision-making for road safety strategies.

“These results are a glimpse of the full complement of data already collated and with the potential to grow, be improved on and incorporated to other data sets,” he said.

“It is arguably the only and most accurate empirical data analysis of the crash situation on SA roads where serious crash cases have been considered over the period.”

“It is strongly suggested that laws pertaining to vehicle roadworthy testing be amended.” – Craig Proctor-Parker

The data should be considered when formulating road safety strategies in future, he said.

Enforcement of seatbelt use and banning the transporting of passengers on the back of bakkies tops his list of strategies to reduce the number of vehicle accident-related deaths.

“Seatbelt use by passengers in SA is very low so it not uncommon to see high passenger death rates in all vehicle types in serious crash cases,” he said, particularly when minibus taxis and bakkies are involved.

Taxis have many passengers and seatbelt use is complicated, but strict enforcement of laws regarding seatbelt use, “primarily fining drivers to ensure they insist that all passengers wear seatbelts, is the primary factor in death rate reduction,” Proctor-Parker said.

“Although legislation has been amended to somewhat control LDV load bin passengers, in my opinion it is wholly inadequate, given the high load bin passenger death rates. This legislation should be changed to completely exclude passengers in a load bin.”

The high number of head-on accidents, resulting from cars crossing over into oncoming traffic, is an indication of insufficient or inappropriate separating barriers,” Proctor-Parker said.

“This type of crash can be reduced by implementing engineering remedies, such as barriers. Although it does appear there has been some concerted effort to implement road edge or shoulder ‘rumble strips’, this needs to be compulsory and rolled out extensively.”

Of the 650 accidents analysed, almost 70% were found to have been caused by human factors, 24% by mechanical and 3.4% by road issues, and 2.8% were classed as “environmental”.

Mechanical factors are typically tyre failure, brake failure and steering failure. Reducing mechanical-related crashes “almost exclusively” requires a combination of policing by means of vehicle inspections and responsible vehicle maintenance by drivers, Proctor Parker said.

“It is strongly suggested that laws pertaining to vehicle roadworthy testing be amended. A three or five-year compulsory reinspection of vehicles, by means of a roadworthy inspection test, should be considered.”

Just over 23% of the analysed accidents happened in Kwazulu-Natal, followed by 15.7% in the Eastern Cape and 14.4% in Gauteng. Geo-locating pinpointed the top three accident areas:

  • the N1 between Worcester and Beaufort West;
  • the N3 between Mooi River and Warden; and
  • the N1 between Bela-Bela and Louis Trichardt.

Article Credit to Times LIVE.