Heavy afternoon traffic on the M1 North towards Midrand. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Heavy afternoon traffic on the M1 North towards Midrand. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Most fatal road accidents in SA happen at weekends between 4pm and 10pm.

This is according to researchers from North-West University (NWU) who conducted a study of fatal road accidents in SA in 2015.

Just more than 60% of fatal accidents in 2015 happened on Fridays‚ Saturdays and Sundays, and just more than 40% occurred between 4pm and 10pm.

To put that 60% into perspective, if fatal accidents were distributed evenly throughout the week, Friday, Saturday and Sunday together would account for 43% of the total.

December 2015 accounted for 11.2% of the fatal accidents of that year, while January and February were the lowest months with 6% and 5% respectively.

"This result is to be expected as the roads are busiest in December‚ because it is the main holiday period for South Africans‚" Tanya Verster and Erika Fourie wrote in their article, "The good‚ the bad and the ugly of South African fatal road accidents"‚ published on Monday in the July/August edition of the South African Journal of Science (SAJS).

"One could argue that people tend to stay at home [in January and February] after their December travels."

The researchers defined a fatal accident as one that results in death within 30 days of the crash. They relied largely on data from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) and the Department of Transport.

Almost four in five people killed in fatal road accidents in 2015 were men. This was despite men making up just less than half of the population at 49%.

Four out of every five fatal accidents were attributed to human factors‚ of which jaywalking made up more than half (52.5%) and speeding came in at 11.6%.

"Road and environmental conditions contributed to 12.7% of the accidents‚ with sharp bends (22%) and poor visibility (16.5%) the main causes."

According to the Department of Transport‚ 10,613 fatal accidents killed 12,944 people or about 1.2 people per crash in 2015. Two-thirds of the involved drivers were younger than 30 years old.

Other researchers quoted in the article believed that "younger drivers tend to avoid and delay taking breaks and also take more deliberate risks than older drivers do".

Only 1.3% of crashes in 2015 were fatal‚ yet they made up 42.4% of the costs involved with all accidents.

"The total cost of South African road traffic accidents in 2015 was estimated to be R142.95bn‚ which equates to 3.4% of SA’s gross domestic product (GDP).

"SA’s economy is not only affected by the direct costs of accidents‚ but also via the death toll itself as the fatalities most often are the breadwinners of households‚ which leaves the rest of the household members financially unattended."