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Safety in numbers: Road accident statistics around the world

[fa icon="calendar"] 10/21/17 6:15 PM / by SAMTRAC


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We’ve devoted a significant number of blogs to helping you stay safe on the roads. And in theory, we all know how we should be driving on the road to keep ourselves and other road users safe. But, to some degree or other, we’ve all taken some form of action that can only be classified as dangerous or reckless. Do you remember the 1950 Disney short film, Motor Mania? In it, Goofy demonstrates how a perfectly amiable pedestrian (Mr Walker) becomes an absolute terror (Mr Wheeler), once he gets behind the wheel. Based on statistics from around the world, let’s take a look at just how badly we’re all still driving.


United Kingdom

In 2016, Great Britain reported 1 792 fatalities, with 24 101 people seriously injured. That’s an average of five fatalities a day and 66 seriously injured people. The South East region of England showed the highest number of road deaths (280), up by 19% from the previous year. Children comprised 4% of those who perished in road accidents (aged up to 15 years’ old). Most of the total number of fatalities occurred in a motor car (816), followed by pedestrian deaths (448).   


United States

Every year, six million people are involved in car crashes in the US. Ninety people die every day, with 6% of all crashes resulting in fatalities. In 2016, the US reported 37 461 deaths, with 8 173 workers dying in work-related motor vehicle crashes between 2003 and 2008. Two million people involved in crashes annually will suffer a permanent injury as a result of a car accident. The three leading causes are alcohol (40%), reckless driving (33%), and speeding (30%). One in seven drivers don’t wear a seatbelt, in spite of them being proven to reduce the risk of death by 45% and serious injury by 50%. Distraction was reported as a factor in nearly one in five crashes where someone was injured.


South Africa

In 2016, South Africa recorded the highest number of road deaths in 10 years, with a 9% increase from the previous year. The Automobile Association (AA) reported 12 944 road accident fatalities in 2015, compared to more than 14 000 in 2016. Pedestrians remain most vulnerable of all road users – 5 410 of the 14 07 deaths were pedestrians (38% of the total number). Human factors are indicated as the biggest contributor to road crash fatalities, accounting for 77.5% of contributing factors. Vehicle factors (6%), and road and environmental factors (16.5%), make up the balance. These factors include jaywalking pedestrians (38.8%); hit and run crashes (18.5%); speeding (14.1%); overtaking into oncoming traffic (6.9%); drunk driving/driving while on drugs (3.6%), and driver fatigue (2.2%). Drivers in both Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal were the biggest offenders – both contributing 20% to the national total.


Latin America

In 2013, the continent of Latin America recorded 130 000 road deaths. This doesn’t even take into account the six million people who are injured in road incidents every year. There is an average of 19.2 road fatalities per 100 000 inhabitants in Latin America – three times the rate of some European countries. In Latin America and the Caribbean, 295 people are killed in road accidents every day, more than twice as many as in developed nations. A recent study showed that the social impact – in terms of years lost due to premature deaths in road traffic accidents – is comparable to that caused every year by AIDS, lung cancer, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Road accidents are the main cause of death for children between five and 14 years of age, and the second cause of death for young people between 15 and 29.   



India’s road death statistics are quite frightening – in 2016, 17 deaths occurred on its roads every hour, with Chennai and Delhi considered the most dangerous. A report on road accidents in India revealed that the states of Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu accounted for the maximum number of deaths last year. The country recorded 480 652 accidents, with 150 785 deaths. Interestingly, the highest number of incidents didn’t occur on the national or state highways, but rather other roads. Speeding was the biggest culprit, causing 66.5% of all road accidents, and contributing 61% to all deaths. This was closely followed by dangerous and reckless overtaking; driving while drunk or high, and using mobile phones. 


Middle East

Data from Friends of the Red Crescent Committee citied Saudi Arabia recording 526 000 accidents annually, with up to 17 deaths daily. In comparison, the UAE witnessed 10.9 road deaths per 100 000 people. Among the Gulf countries, Saudi Arabia topped the list at 27.4. The death rates for other GCC countries were: Oman (25.4), Kuwait (18.7). Qatar (15.2), and Bahrain (8.0). The UAE’s Ministry of Interior has revealed that the number one cause for road-related accidents and deaths is swerving, followed by poor decisions made by drivers, and not keeping enough distance between cars. Recent statistics issued by Sharjah Police show that 3 560 motorists had their cars impounded for up to 30 days – with the highest speed recorded at a staggering 268 km/h. In Dubai, police recorded a drop in traffic-related deaths from 177 people in 2014 down to 166 in 2015. According to previous reports, reckless driving emerged as the main cause of the 3 078 road accidents.


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Topics: Driving safety, driver training, Driver safety



SAMTRAC International is the leading occupational health, safety and environment (HSE) management e-learning training course that provides students with the foundational and fundamental knowledge critical to occupational HSE management.

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