Just three car models make up nearly 50% of SA fatal crashes — study

A new study released by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) has found that light motor vehicles are responsible for the bulk of fatal crashes at 53.8%. Specific models — like Volkswagen Polo, followed closely by Toyota Hilux and Toyota Quantum — rank at the top. 

“Even though not acceptable, considering that Toyota Quantum and Toyota HiAce vehicles are on road on a semi-full-time basis and travel more million vehicle kilometres vs other vehicle models and would thus be exposed to more on road conflict situations and/or to driver fatigue, one could expect more fatal crashes for this type of classes,” the report said.

The report covers road accidents from 1 October 2017 to 30 June 2021. During this period, a total of 48 330 vehicles were involved in 37 583 fatal crashes. There were 45 232 fatalities recorded with a severity (deaths per crash) of 1.203 over the 3.80year period.

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Only 66.9% or 32 333 of the 48 330 total vehicles involved in the fatal crashes over the

analysis period could be linked to vehicles registered on the national administration traffic information system.

“The most vehicle makes involved in fatal crashes [that is], 30.8% of all fatal crashes during the study period involved Toyota, followed by Volkswagen with a recorded 15.9% … In total, these two vehicle makes were involved in 46.7% of fatal crashes,” the RTMC report said.

Not only did these vehicle makes account for two-thirds of fatal crashes, but also the bulk of speeding infringements. However, the report said variables, including a more in-depth look at the type of vehicle involved in fatal crashes versus the proportion of respective vehicle population, was needed to identify over- or under-representation of such type or class of vehicles in the data. 

Yellow cars were shown to be involved in the least crashes and white cars were responsible for most. This could also be because of the fact that most models that are  thought to be on the road more often and travel for longer distances — like the Toyota Quantum and Toyota HiAce are white — according to the study. 

The Automobile Association commended the researchers for the well-put-together report, but expressed reservations about its value in relation to road safety. 

Spokesperson Layton Beard said the question was: How do we use the data?”

“It is very interesting and it is a very well prepared document. The concern for us is the purpose of this data. What exactly are they trying to tell us? What is the message?” he asked on Thursday. 

Beard said unless more research was conducted, as recommended in the study, the full value cannot be determined.

“Where are we in terms of making this translate into better figures for our country? If you know the type of vehicle, how does that result in road safety? Do we say we take it off the road, suggest more safety control — what exactly are we saying? There is a disconnect between the research and the output that we are trying to achieve,” Beard added.

South Africa’s road safety figures have been described as appalling compared with international averages. A road safety management strategy envisages cutting fatalities by 50% in 2030.

The International Transport Forum said in 2019 the country had made strides in reducing road crash fatalities since their peak in 2006. However, the numbers remain high

The forum said that, in 2017, road crashes cost South Africa 3.5% of GDP and, between 2000 and 2018, the number of road deaths increased by 52%.

“The mortality rate remains extremely high and has consistently been above 20 [per 100 000] in recent years. By way of comparison, the average in the EU is 4.9 deaths per 100 000 inhabitants in 2018,” the forum noted.

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Tunicia Phillips
Tunicia Phillips is an investigative, award-winning journalist who has worked in broadcast for 10 years. Her beats span across crime, court politics, mining energy and social justice. She has recently returned to print at the M&G working under the Adamela Trust to specialise in climate change and environmental reporting.

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