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Distracted Driving: Behind 80% of South Africa’s Car Crashes

  • Prevalence of Distracted Driving: Between 60% to 80% of car accidents in South Africa are attributed to driving while distracted (DWD), highlighting the pervasive nature of this dangerous behavior on the country's roads.
  • Impact of Mobile Phone Usage: Texting while driving is identified as a significant risk factor, being six times more likely to cause a crash than driving under the influence of alcohol. Research indicates that even a single instance of mobile phone usage results in a substantial duration of distracted driving, significantly increasing the likelihood of accidents.
  • Mitigating Distractions: Measures to mitigate distractions include utilizing Bluetooth technology, pre-drive preparations such as setting destinations and playlists beforehand, and implementing safety precautions within the vehicle, such as ensuring proper restraint for children and pets. These proactive steps aim to minimize distractions and enhance road safety for all motorists.
distracted driving

Driving while distracted (DWD) poses a grave risk on South African roads, with a staggering 60% to 80% of car accidents in the country attributed to this perilous behavior, according to recent revelations from MasterDrive, a leading authority in driver training and road safety.

MasterDrive’s CEO, Eugene Herbert, emphasized the severity of the issue by highlighting that 60% of crashes among clients of a prominent insurer were directly linked to DWD. Herbert pointed out the challenge of proving phone usage prior to accidents without specialized software, indicating that the actual figures could be even higher within the broader population.

Furthermore, MasterDrive’s data underscored the alarming fact that texting while driving is six times more likely to cause a crash compared to driving under the influence of alcohol. These findings shed light on the urgent need to address the pervasive issue of distracted driving to curb the escalating rate of traffic collisions, which currently stand as the leading cause of workplace injuries and fatalities.

Discovery, a prominent insurance provider, echoed these concerns, citing research revealing that a mere instance of mobile phone usage results in approximately 52 seconds of distracted driving. This revelation means that drivers engaging with their phones while behind the wheel effectively navigate “blind” for one kilometer, substantially increasing the likelihood of accidents, particularly when traveling at higher speeds.

Moreover, Discovery’s data indicated that a staggering 80% of crashes involve some form of driver distraction, underscoring the critical need for proactive measures to mitigate this pervasive threat to road safety.

To combat the scourge of DWD, Discovery emphasized the pivotal role of Bluetooth technology in minimizing distractions caused by mobile phones, highlighting its importance as a legal requirement for all drivers. The insurer further advised drivers to streamline their pre-drive preparations by entering destinations into navigation apps beforehand, ensuring playlists are ready, and activating the “Do Not Disturb” mode to resist the temptation of engaging with notifications while on the road.

Additionally, Discovery outlined essential safety precautions to minimize distractions within the vehicle, such as ensuring that children under 12 are securely belted in the back seat and that infants are appropriately restrained in rear-facing safety seats until they meet the specified weight and age criteria. Forward-facing safety seats are recommended for children over one year old and between 9 and 18 kilograms.

Acknowledging the potential distractions posed by pets, Discovery advised pet owners to utilize portable pet homes or backseat covers to create a barrier between themselves and their pets while driving, thus reducing the risk of accidents caused by animal-related distractions.

Furthermore, Discovery emphasized the importance of conducting pre-drive checks to eliminate potential hazards within the vehicle, such as loose items that could roll underfoot, thus averting distractions that could compromise driver attention and lead to accidents.

In conclusion, the revelations from MasterDrive and Discovery underscore the urgent need for concerted efforts to address the pervasive issue of distracted driving in South Africa. By raising awareness, implementing proactive measures, and promoting responsible driving behaviors, stakeholders can work together to mitigate the risks associated with DWD and enhance road safety for all motorists.



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