No, South Africa is Not the Most Dangerous Country to Drive in, Zutobi Research Study is Misleading

No, South Africa is Not the Most Dangerous Country to Drive in, Zutobi Research Study is Misleading

A US-based driver education company, Zutobi, recently made the claim that the South Africa is the most dangerous country to drive in, based on a number of factors. Briefly News takes a look at whether there is any validty to that claim.

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A recent study conducted by Zutobi, a driver education company based in the US, made the claim that South Africa is the most dangerous country to drive in the world.

The study scored countries on a number of factors such as alcohol-related accidents, the use of seatbelts and the country's speed limit, and South Africa scored a low safety score of 3.4 out of 10.

Zutobi, South Africa, research, dangerous country to drive in, Fact check
Zutobi, a US-based company, says South Africa's road safety is one of the worst in the world. Image: Lefty Shivambu
Source: Getty Images

Zutobi's data found that alcohol consumption is responsible for an estimated 57.5% of road traffic deaths in South Africa, and the road traffic fatality rate is 22.2 per 100 000 people. It also found that only 31% of front-seat passengers in Mzansi wear seatbelts.

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The study's findings were published by many South African publications and the company's CEO, Leo Waldenback, even appeared on eNCA and stated that South Africa's figures are way too high.

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Is South Africa the most dangerous country to drive in? We checked

South Africa is known to have serious motor vehicle accidents that usually make the headlines. According to the Department of Transport, there was a total of 843 road traffic deaths in 2020 and in 2021, that figure slightly went down to 822, reports AfricaCheck.

Zutobi stated that it gets its data on the road accident deaths, seatbelt-wearing rates, alcohol-related accidents and the blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for drivers from the World Health Organization.

The company also admitted to getting its information on the different countries' speed limits from Wikipedia, which is a generally unreliable source, because anyone can edit information on the website.

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Zutobi also based its study on countries that have data readily available, which means only 53 countires make up the final findings out of 197.

The WHO data Zutobi used for its study is also not the most recent information. According to Binta Sako from the WHO Africa regional office, the data that is currently on their website was complied in 2016 and only published 2018.

Based on 2016, Zimbabwe had the highest number of road accidents with a road traffic death rate of 39.9 per 100 000 population while South Africa was number 23 with a road traffic death rate of 25.8.

The WHO does not have statistics on alcohol-related road traffic deaths for every country, including many in Africa.

What's the verdict?

Dr Lee Randall, a postdoctoral research consultant for the South African Medical Research Council Wits Centre for Health Economics and Decision Science, stated that Zutobi's report is misleading.

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Randall noted that Zutobi's research methodology is significantly flawed and the report is biased totowards high-income countries and no low-income countries are represented in the study.

Randall added that the Zutobi research focuses primarily on driver behaviour and, aside from motorway speed restrictions, it does not evaluate other aspects such as road infrastructure, which is an important road safety metric.

Randall also stated that when considering data from all countries, South Africa is not the worst country to drive in and was somewhat in the middle, therefore Zutobi's study is incorrect.

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Source: Briefly News

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