The difference between life and death could be a minor 5 km/h difference in speed, more particularly when pedestrians are scrambling across the streets like ants.

Speed is one of the biggest factors involved in road accidents – you could either amend it to ensure you abide by the K53 road and traffic sign rules; or go with the alternative, which could lead you to end up in a road crash with extensive road injuries.

Read more about South Africa’s rules of the road, to get a complete grasp of how you, as a road user, can retain road safety:

Did you know? Interesting statistical facts about road traffic accidents:

  • Approximately 1.25-million people die annually, due to road traffic crashes.
  • People aged between 15 and 29 are more liable to death or disability, caused by road traffic injuries.
  • Road traffic crashes costs countries 3% of their economic GDP, due to treatment, lost productivity, and healing time required for injuries.
  • On a global scale, low- and middle-income countries contribute to 90% of road fatalities.
  • Almost 50% of road fatalities include pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists.

It’s easy to grab your keys without any worry about getting into an accident. However, according to the World Health Organisation, socioeconomic status, age and gender can play a major role in the outcome of the road trip. WHO has revealed that road traffic injury and death rates are highest within regions of Africa, 48% of global road traffic fatalities occur between the ages of 15 and 44 years, and young males are 3 times more likely to get caught up in a fatal car accident. Also, there are chances that drivers will suffer life-threatening injuries during road accidents, as well as severe arm and leg injuries. As a result, they may be forced to use wheelchairs or mobility scooter for outdoors for the rest of their lives.

So, what are the causes of a road accident?

Majority of road traffic accidents are caused as a result of human-error – statistically accounting for 80% of fatal collisions, according to a road accident report.

Did you know that a vehicle dropping off a 12-story building is equivalent to crashing at 100 km/h?

If not, then you’d be surprised by various causes of road traffic accidents:

  1. Speeding – When you choose your speed, you also choose your consequences. Speeding is one of the biggest single contributor to road traffic accidents, injury and even death. Being a 40% contributor to road accidents, remember that a 5 km/h increase in speed could be the difference between life and death.
  2. Getting distracted easily – It’s as simple as placing your mobile phone out of site or using a bluetooth headset when taking calls. Texting and driving do not only make keeping in the correct lane and maintaining a safe following distance much more difficult, but when you do decide to look up, it’s probably because you’ve been in a collision. So, how’s that fair for the innocent pedestrian or humble driver that you collided into?
  3. Undertaking – You’ve most likely come across motorists who hog the middle and outside road lane. Gather your frustrations and be patient. Undertaking at the wrong time could cost you an expensive crash.
  4. Not making use of an indicator – Imagine you’re turning right without showing any indication and a truck continues on the oncoming lane… It’s important that drivers are aware when you want to make a turn. Indicators are an important factor involved in reducing the risk of a collision.
  5. Not using a motorcycle helmet, child restraint or seat-belt – Well, here’s something to pond on… Wearing a helmet, seat-belt or child restraint can reduce road death by nearly 40-70% and the risk of road injury by 54-80%.
  6. Driving in fog – Fog may be in the air, but it’s actually a cloud at ground level. When the weather is a bit saturated, make sure you drive with the lights on low beam, use wipers for maximum visibility, reduce your speed and use the road’s painted markings as a guide.
  7. Driving ‘under the influence’ – Come on… It’s quite obvious by now that drinking or taking psychoactive substances, such as drugs, can inhibit one’s mental ability, and in turn, affect one’s ability to make safe driving decisions on the road – leading to fatal crashes.
  8. Tailgating – As annoying and frustrating the driver in front of you may be, tailgating is one of the most dangerous traffic offences. If the driver in front of you has to do an emergency stop, you’ll both get caught up in a collision and possibly road traffic injury.
  9. Unsafe road infrastructure – Roads should be designed for the safe use of motorists and pedestrians. Keep an eye out for footpaths, crossing points and cycling lanes.
  10. Poor lane discipline – It’s quite mysterious as to how one could pass a driver’s license test with poor lane discipline… If that’s the case, avoid being all over the place and stick to one lane – the lives of other drivers are being placed at risk too.

When there’s a cause, there’s a way to eliminate it… There are many ways in which road traffic injuries can be prevented:

  • Improving vehicle safety features
  • Designing safer road infrastructure
  • Public awareness of road safety
  • Enforcing the laws against the above road risks

Why not take the initiative to eliminate fatal crashes and reduce serious injuries, by making safe driving decisions on the road. Remember, being a motorist places other lives at risk too. If you’re aware that you’re susceptible to road traffic accidents, perhaps it’s then time to sell your car.

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