South Africa has been ranked as the world's most dangerous country to drive in while India came in at fourth place, according to a research study undertaken by international driver education company Zutobi.
Among the list of 56 countries in the study, Thailand came in second position and the US took up third spot. The safest roads in the world can be found in Norway, with its Scandinavian neighbour Sweden having the third safest roads while Japan took second place, according to the study.
"We analysed each country on five factors, giving each one a normalised score out of ten for each factor, before taking an average final score across all five factors," Zutobi said. These factors included estimates on the number of road traffic deaths per 100,000 population; the percentage of car occupants who use a seat-belt when travelling in the front of a vehicle; and the proportion of road traffic deaths which have been attributed to alcohol consumption over the national legal limit.
These estimates were based on the World Health Organization's Global Health Observatory data repository. The maximum speed limit on motorway and blood alcohol content restrictions in the various countries were also taken into account. But Zutobi's findings have been challenged by the Justice Project SA (JPSA), an NGO that aims to improve road traffic laws and their enforcement in South Africa.
JPSA Chairperson Howard Dembovsky, while agreeing that South Africans tended to be poor drivers, said that Zutobi had used outdated figures in its study. Dembovsky also queried why South Africa was the only African country in its list. "So to accuse us of being the worst in the world is a little bit unfair. If you are going to talk about the worst countries in the world, then you need to adopt a balanced approach," Dembovsky said as he commented on poor driving in his country in an interview with radio station Cape Talk.
"(South African drivers) do have a shocking road safety record. As much as I would not place much reliance on that so-called study, there is still plenty of evidence to show that South Africans are dangerous drivers and inconsiderate drivers and have very little regard for the safety of others on our roads," he said.