2003 TRAFFIC OFFENCE SURVEY:: Comprehensive Report on Fatal Crash Statistics and Road Traffic Information

Part 16 Summary of the 2003 Traffic Offence / Road Safety Survey
  1. Introduction:
    The purpose of this part of the 2001-2003 Road Traffic Crash and Traffic Information Report is to provide a brief summary on some of the main findings of the 2003 Road Traffic Offence Survey. Recommendations on addressing current possible shortcomings in road safety programmes to address the level of lawlessness are also provided. A copy of the full Report is available from the Department of Transport on request.
  2. Background:
    1. In order to combat the occurrence of road traffic crashes and to plan and undertake road traffic safety programmes and projects, two main sources of information are required, namely road traffic crash and road traffic offence survey statistics and information. The information obtained from offence surveys is mainly utilised to:
      • complement and clarify contributory factors to road traffic crashes,
      • measure the effect and impact of road safety and law-enforcement programmes on the occurrence of traffic crashes, and
      • to determine the general level of lawlessness on the road and street network on a year to year basis.
    2. A service provider was appointed in December 2002 to assist the Department with the planning and undertaking of countywide offence surveys during 2003 in support of the Arrive Alive road safety campaign. The resulting report is now complete, a copy of which is attached hereto for information of the Minister.
    3. The traffic offences surveyed were the following:
      • Speed: urban and rural (for grouped types of vehicles)
      • Alcohol levels (drivers and pedestrians)
      • Wearing of seatbelts (driver, front and back seat passengers)
      • Ignoring of traffic signals • Overtaking on barrier lines
      • Pedestrian presence on roads / jaywalking
      • Driver documentation: - Driving licences; and - Professional driving permits
      • Vehicle documentation: - Agreement between the registration number on the number plate of vehicles and the licence disk
      • Vehicle fitness: - Quality of tyres; and - Functioning of lights. Additional observations included:
      • Observation of animals on roads • Observation of bicycles on roads; and
      • Observation of the presence of traffic officers on duty on rural (out-of-town / city) roads. A new feature is the introduction of an index number system to represent the combined results of the offence study in a “single number” for each province and for the country as a whole. This index will be helpful in future to compare the results of consecutive years in a summarised format.
    4. Some of the main results are briefly discussed below.
  3. Survey Results and Discussion:
    1. In comparing the 2002 and 2003 results, certain improvements can be seen, but in some cases there is also a deterioration. In general, the results show that the level of road traffic offences in South Africa is far from ideal, and that the level of road traffic law enforcement (on rural roads at least) is low. A brief summary of some of the results is provided in the table attached under Annexure A.
    2. Some Improvements: A number of significant improvements did occur between 2002 and 2003 in some areas, some of which are briefly discussed as follows:
      • Urban speed offences are significantly down in the Northern Cape and the Western Cape. In the Northern Cape the % of drivers exceeding the speed limit of 60 km/h reduced from 33% in 2002 to 18% in 2003. In the Western Cape the % of drivers exceeding the limit reduced from 31% to 23%.
      • Rural speed offence levels are also down in Mpumalanga and the Western Cape. In Mpumalanga the % of drivers exceeding the limit reduced from 21% to 11% and in the Western Cape from 17% to 9%.
      • Overtaking across barrier lines showed a marked improvement in all provinces, with an average decrease in the offence level from 8.4 offences per observation point per hour to 3.3 per hour. This is a commendable improvement. The rate of this lethal offence, however, still remains unacceptably high.
      • A significant improvement of the offence rate in driver licences is reported, with the national offence rate decreasing from 8% to 5%.
      • The condition of tyres on trucks, buses and taxis improved significantly, from a national offence rate of 23% to approximately 9%.

These improvements are echoed by the significant improvements on the limited, combined provincial offence index numbers reported for 2002 and 2003 respectively, (please see Table and Graph below). The index improved significantly in all provinces as well as on the national level. (Note: The combined provincial offence index number system represents the combined results of all offences surveyed in a single number for each province and for the country as a whole. The index will be helpful to compare Provincial and Offences results of consecutive years in a summarised format.)

Combined Provincial Traffic Offence Index
Traffic Offence Index GA KZ WC EC FS MP NW LI NC RSA
Comparable Index 2002 76.60 61.80 76.50 67.00 68.20 89.90 74.90 62.40 58.90 73.60
Limited index 2003 52.90 54.10 59.30 55.50 48.30 63.10 55.00 56.10 43.30 55.40
Change -23.70 -7.70 -17.20 -11.50 -19.90 -26.80 -19.90 -6.30 -15.60 -18.20

The figures in the table above indicate a decrease in the RSA index from 73,6 in 2002 to an index of 55,4 in 2003. The biggest decrease was experienced in Mpumalanga where the index decreased from 89,9 on 2002 to 63,1 in 2003, followed by Gauteng where the index decreased from 76,6 to 52,9. (A higher index number is indicative of more serious problems). The reason for the improvements could not be determined due to incomplete information on traffic management operations. What is known, is that law enforcement on barrier lines was seriously increased in Mpumalanga during May 2002, which might have had an influence on the reduction of that offence in the province. (This was shortly after the publication of the previous Arrive Alive offence monitoring report in which the very high level of barrier line offences in Mpumalanga was shown.)

The number of prosecutions for barrier line offences in that province was increased by approximately 300% in May, bringing the total for that month to 800. (The totals for the previous three months were 300, 249 and 243 respectively). The national number of overtaking prosecutions during May 2002 was 1,888 (the totals for the previous three months were 1,596, 1,666 and 1,108 respectively).

  1. Some Concerns: In spite of the encouraging improvements in some cases, the reported offence rates and indices are still too high in certain important cases; and levels of enforcement are generally far too low. The following should be noted as some examples of issues of concern:
    • Speed offence levels generally are still very high, as is evident from the Table attached under Annexure A. In particular, the national average of 39% of drivers exceeding the urban speed limits by more than 10% is a reason for serious concern.
    • A significant deterioration in the urban speed offence situation between the 2002 and 2003 studies occurred in Gauteng and the Free State. The urban speed offence rate reported for Gauteng is up from 17% to 56%, and in the Free State it increased from 23 to 37%.
    • Driver alcohol levels are extremely high in all provinces, compared to acceptable international standards. The national average of the general daily offence rate is 2% (“hit rate” of 1 in 50); the after 18:00 rate is 5% (“hit rate” of 1 in 20), which, based on international best practice standards, could be classified as an emergency situation.
    • The driver alcohol offence rate in Mpumalanga deteriorated significantly, from 3% to 5% (general daily rate). This province now has the highest drinking rate, followed by North West in the second place with 4% (both higher than the 3% of the Western Cape, which province is often perceived as the province with the highest alcohol problem due to its large liquor industry).
    • Traffic signal offence rates (drivers ignoring red traffic signals) represent a crisis situation. Except for Gauteng and Limpopo, where the offence rates were already very high, the situation has deteriorated in all provinces from 2002 to 2003. Red lights are being skipped during 55% percent of red phases countrywide. This can only be described as alarming; is indicative of a serious breakdown in traffic discipline; and creates lethal conditions on the urban road and street network.
    • Traffic law enforcement levels are generally too low. The presence of traffic officers were observed only 5 times over a total distance of 4,600 kilometres travelled on the inter-city and inter-provincial road network, including only 3 cases of active interaction with road users. This signifies that the function of law enforcement needs urgent attention. (Only rural traffic enforcement operations were included in the survey. However, discussions with traffic managers at some local authorities confirm that a similar problem is experienced the urban areas, to a lesser or greater extent.) In a study done by UNIARC (University of KwaZulu-Natal) over December 2003, it was also found that law enforcement levels are too low in comparison with the level of lawlessness on the road network.

According to the information given in the Traffic Offence Index Table above, the traffic offence situation is the least under control in the Western Cape and Mpumalanga. (In the case of Mpumalanga, alcohol, barrier line (overtaking) offences and skipping of red traffic lights contribute most to this Province’s top score in the overall index numbers. As for Western Cape, their offence rates are generally fairly high compared to the other provinces, but it is especially the alcohol rates and skipping of red lights that contribute to the significantly higher than average index number of this province.) The index numbers for these two provinces are approximately 20% higher than the third province on the ranking list. Some specific traffic offences are also discussed in more detail below.

  1. Speed Offences:

    Drivers of the various types of vehicles exceeding the speed limit in urban and rural areas are briefly discussed below. The information below relates to urban streets with a speed limit of 60 km/h and the rural roads are inter-city and inter-provincial national or main roads with a speed limit of 120 km/h.

    Speed is a contributing factor in almost each and every accident; high speeding levels are indicative of a serious road safety threat; urban speeding is even more lethal, considering the number of pedestrians and children that are present on the urban environment. Reduction of speed is emphasised as an important facet of The Road to Safety 2001-2005 Strategy.

    However, no significant success with speed management is apparently being achieved, though. Speed remains an immense problem, and increasingly so. The average percentage of speed offences increased from a national average of 28% in 2002 to a new record of 39% in 2003. The speeds of four types of vehicles in urban and rural areas per Province, as recorded in the 2003 survey, are given in the Tables below.
% Vehicles Exceeding the Speed Limit in Urban and Rural Areas : 2003
Vehicle Type Area GA KZ WC EC FS MP NW LI NC RSA
Light Vehicles Urban 80.20 45.50 43.40 58.20 56.70 71.30 55.00 64.20 31.20 61.00
Motorcars & LDV's Rural 34.70 22.10 21.20 16.80 36.40 25.00 23.70 25.50 16.30 27.00
Minibus Taxi Urban 88.60 43.30 40.60 58.10 54.00 50.70 29.30 54.40 14.90 59.00
Rural 10.40 21.10 17.40 20.30 12.00 15.70 32.60 19.30 10.40 16.50
Truck Urban 32.80 39.80 18.40 25.00 37.50 41.00 21.40 27.70 * 30.70
Rural 38.90 33.00 48.10 30.90 52.10 55.20 62.60 35.50 * 41.00

The above figures indicate that 80,2% light vehicles (motorcars and LDV’s “bakkies”) exceed the speed limit of 60km/h on urban streets in Gauteng. In Mpumalanga the figure is 71,3%, followed by Limpopo 64,2% and the Eastern Cape with 58,2%. The highest percentage of light vehicles exceeding the limit on the rural road network is in the Free State with 36,4%, followed by Gauteng with 34,7%. These figures are substantiated by information received on a daily basis from traffic counting stations on the national road network. The above figures for light vehicles are also reflected in the graph below.


With regard to minibus taxis : in Gauteng 88,6%, in the Eastern Cape 58,1%, in Limpopo 54,4% and in the Free State 54,0% of these vehicles exceed the limit in urban areas. The RSA average is 59,0%. In rural areas 32.6% minibus taxis exceed the set limit of 100 km/h in North West, while the figure is 21,1% in KwaZulu-Natal and 20,3% in the Eastern Cape. The RSA average is 16,5%. These figures are also reflected in the graph below.


With regard to trucks : 41,0% trucks exceed the limit in urban areas in Mpumalanga, followed by 39,8% in KwaZulu-Natal and 37,5% in the Free State. On the rural road network, 62,6% of the trucks in North West exceed the set limit of 80 km/h, followed by 55,2% in Mpumalanga, 52,1% in the Free State and 48,1% in the Western Cape. These figures are reflected in the graph below.


Insufficient data was available on speed information for buses to calculate reliable rates per Province. National figures in this regard are given in the table below, followed by a graph for the various streets and roads.  

% Buses Exceeding the Speed Limit in Urban and Rural Areas
Speed Limit on Street/Road % Exceeding Limit
Streets with 60 km/h limit 37.7
Roads/Streets with 80 km/h limit 41.8
Roads with 100 km/h limit 5.8
Roads with 120 km/h limit 32.7

The above figures indicate, amongst others, that 37,7% of buses exceed the speed limit of 60 km/h in urban areas and 32,7% exceed the limit of 100 km/h set for buses on 120 km/h limit rural roads.

  1. Professional Driving Permits:

    Information on the percentage of drivers of the various types of vehicles that require professional driving permits (PrDP’s) but failed to produce such permits, or who had the wrong permit for the type of vehicle or produced a permit which had expired, is given in the table below.  
% Drivers of Trucks, Buses and Minibus Taxis without Valid PrDP
2002 2003 %
Province % PrDP Present ? Present % change
offenders Yes No but expired offenders 2002-2003
Gauteng 16.00 81.90 9.20 8.90 18.10 13.12
KwaZulu-Natal 31.00 81.50 9.70 8.80 18.50 -40.32
Western Cape 22.00 83.90 7.30 8.80 16.10 -26.82
Eastern Cape 28.00 80.10 10.50 9.40 19.90 -28.93
Free State 20.00 84.00 7.70 8.30 16.00 -20.00
Mpumalanga 10.00 92.40 4.50 3.10 7.60 -24.00
North West 13.00 88.10 5.50 6.40 12.00 -7.69
Limpopo 8.00 83.40 7.90 8.60 16.60 107.50
Northern Cape 14.00 87.30 6.40 6.40 12.70 -9.29
Weighted RSA 20.00 83.50 8.30 8.20 16.50 -17.50

The figures in the above table indicate an overall improvement of 17,5% from an offence rate of 20,0% in 2002 to an offence rate of 16,5% in 2003. However, the percentage of drivers without valid permits in Gauteng increased by 13,12% from 16,0% in 2003 to 18,1% in 2003. The increase in Limpopo was 107,5% from 8,0% to 16,6%. The percentage of drivers that produced expired PrDP’s during the survey is reflected in the graph below.


The overall percentage of PrDP offences detected and given in the table above is also shown in the graph below.


The biggest decrease in PrDP offences was achieved in KwaZulu-Natal where the offences decreased by 40,32% from 31,0% in 2002 to 18,5% in 2003. The information collected during the survey on drivers that failed to produce a valid driving licence or PrDP was used to make a rough estimate of the number of persons involved. These calculated figures indicate that:

  • · The 4,5 % of drivers of light motor vehicles who were unlicenced would represent approximately 200 000 unlicenced persons on our roads.
  • · Under the same kind of simplifying assumption, the 17% of drivers of vehicles requiring a PrDP who could not produce a valid PrDP, represents more than 210 000 persons. The above estimated figures on PrDP’s (which could be conservative) are substantiated by information obtained from the National Traffic Information System (NaTIS) at the end of October 2003, which indicated that there were a total of 337,119 expired PrDP’s recorded on the system.
  1. Alcohol Limits:

    Information on the percentage of drivers found driving under the influence of alcohol is given in the table below. The figures include the 10% tolerance as required by the Judiciary for law enforcement purposes.
% Drivers found driving under the influence of Alcohol (Including 10% tolerance)
Vehicle Type Year GA KZ WC EC FS MP NW LI NC RSA
All Vehicles 2002 2.00 0.90 2.00 1.50 1.00 1.80 4.00 2.20 3.10 1.80
All Times 2003 1.14 1.68 2.85 1.74 1.48 4.68 2.63 3.73 2.29 2.08
All Vehicles 2002 7.80 2.50 2.60 6.25 3.60 5.00 8.90 8.00 7.40 5.50
Between 18:00-21:00 2003 2.65 4.49 8.13 2.48 4.40 13.42 2.86 8.90 4.69 5.08
Drivers of Trucks, 2002 3.00 4.20 1.60 1.40 0.80 1.10 2.30 2.00 3.40 2.50
Buses & Taxis 2003 1.44 0.90 0.51 2.74 0.50 6.12 1.79 1.92 1.23 1.74

The above figures for all vehicles at all times indicate an increase in the national rate of about 15,56% from 1,80% drivers found under the influence of alcohol in 2002 to an average of 2,08% drivers under the influence in 2003. The biggest increase was in Mpumalanga where the increase is in the order of 160,0% from 1,80% in 2002 to 4,68% in 2003. In Mpumalanga the rate for the hours between 18;00 and 21:00 increased by 168,0% from 5,00% drivers under the influence in 2002 to 13,42% in 2003. The biggest increase amongst professional drivers (truck, bus and minibus taxi drivers) was also experienced in Mpumalanga : from 1,10% in 2002 to 6,12% in 2003, an increase of 456,36%. The increases in the rates per Province are reflected in the graph below.


The Western Cape shows an increase of 212.69% in the evening drinking and driving rates (18:00 to 21:00) from 2,60% in 2002 to 8,13% in 2003. This increase in the Western Cape could possibly be due to a decline in law enforcement on alcohol, which resulted from the suspension of breathalizer equipment by the Director of Public Prosecutions in that Province, (which is also effecting the use of the equipment in other Provinces). A further increase in drinking and driving may be experienced if the pending court case in this regard is not finalized soon. Some of the information on the percentage of drivers found exceeding the prescribed alcohol limits given in the table above is also reflected in the graphs below.



The above figures on drivers driving under the influence of alcohol should also be considered in terms of the role played by alcohol in road traffic accidents. Figures were released early in 2003 by the Medical Research Council on the number of persons killed in road accidents that were found to be under the influence of alcohol. These figures are given in the table below.  

Percent of User Group deaths involving Alcohol

Road Accidents

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) - g/100ml

User Group
Zero 0,01-0,04 0,05-0,14 0,15-0,24 >0,25 Excl Zero >0,05
Drivers 48.20 5.30 18.20 18.80 9.50 51.8 46.5
Passengers 62.60 4.70 14.00 13.70 5.00 37.4 32.7
Pedestrians 37.50 5.40 12.00 20.40 24.70 62.5 57.1
Cyclists 61.20 3.20 15.10 14.00 6.50 38.8 35.6

In accordance with the above figures, the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 46,5% of all drivers killed in crashes exceeded the legal limit of 0,05 g/ml while 9,5% consumed more than 5 times than the legal limit. The BAC of 57,1% of pedestrians killed in crashes exceeded the legal limit while 24,7% consumed more than 5 times the legal limit of alcohol. These figures, taking into consideration the high percentage of pedestrians jaywalking is a matter of great concern.


  1. Vehicle Tyres:

    Information on the quality of vehicle tyres found on minibus taxis, buses and trucks during the survey is summarized in the table below.  
% Vehicles with at least One Worn or One Damaged Tyre
Vehicle Type Status GA KZ WC EC FS MP NW LI NC RSA
Minibus Worn 17.00 19.00 19.00 19.00 20.00 8.00 18.00 17.00 19.00 17.00
Taxi Damaged 2.00 3.00 3.00 2.00 3.00 5.00 4.00 2.00 5.00 3.00
Bus Worn 2.00 9.00 8.00 5.00 6.00 7.00 6.00 6.00 10.00 6.00
Damaged 14.00 5.00 2.00 3.00 6.00 9.00 6.00 6.00 3.00 8.00
Truck Worn 15.00 21.00 23.00 25.00 19.00 13.00 18.00 17.00 19.00 19.00
Damaged 26.00 17.00 14.00 11.00 28.00 18.00 16.00 29.00 17.00 20.00

The above information indicate that, on average in the RSA about 17% of all minibus taxis are fitted with at least one worn tyre, while 3% have at least one tyre that is damaged. In the Free State 20% of all minibus taxis have at least one worn tyre, and in KwaZulu-Natal, the Western, Eastern and Northern Cape 19% of the minibus taxis are fitted with at least one worn or smooth tyre. In the Northern Cape 10% of buses were found with at least one smooth tyre followed by the Western Cape with 9% of buses with smooth tyres. In Gauteng 14% of buses are fitted with damaged tyres. The number of trucks with smooth and damaged tyres is of great concern. On average in the RSA about 19% of all trucks have at least one smooth tyre and 20% have at least one damaged tyre. In the Eastern Cape 25% of all trucks inspected have at least one smooth and 11% one damaged tyre. In Limpopo 29%, the Free State 28% and in Gauteng 26% of all trucks inspected have at least one damaged tyre. Some of the above figures are also reflected in the graphs below.





  1. Vehicle Lights:

    Some information on the condition of the lights of vehicles is summarized in the tables below. Front Lights:  
% Vehicles with One or More Front Lights not working
Vehicle Type Status GA KZ WC EC FS MP NW LI NC RSA
Motorcar & LDV Main - Dim 2.20 0.70 1.60 2.00 3.10 3.20 4.40 2.80 3.10 2.20
Flicker 1.40 1.50 2.10 2.70 1.60 4.00 3.00 1.50 2.00 2.00
Minibus Taxi Main - Dim 5.00 5.90 4.70 3.30 4.50 3.40 11.00 6.30 4.80 5.30
Flicker 3.90 6.20 3.80 3.30 4.00 5.80 4.50 2.40 3.00 4.30
Bus Main - Dim 3.10 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 2.40 3.10 0.00 1.70 1.40
Flicker 0.00 1.30 0.00 0.00 4.50 1.20 1.50 1.20 0.00 0.80
Truck Main - Dim 2.40 1.10 1.50 2.40 1.10 3.50 4.30 2.80 3.80 2.20
Flicker 2.10 0.80 3.30 1.90 1.70 2.90 1.70 2.30 2.30 2.10

The figures in the table above indicate that, on average in the RSA 2,2% of motorcars and LDV’s; 5,3% of minibus taxis; 1,4% of buses and 2,2% of all trucks have at least one front main beam (dim position) that are defective. In North West 11,0% of minibus taxis have at least one front main beam (dim position) that is not working. In KwaZulu-Natal 6,2% of minibus taxis have at least one front flicker light that is defective. 4,3% of the trucks in North West and 3,5% of the trucks in Mpumalanga were found with defective front lights in the dim position. In the Western Cape 3,3% of the trucks were found with defective front flicker lights. The above figures are also reflected in the graph below. 

Back Lights:  

% Vehicles with One or More Back Lights not workingg
Vehicle Type Status GA KZ WC EC FS MP NW LI NC RSA
Motorcar & LDV Tail 0.80 2.20 2.50 1.90 1.90 3.70 4.00 2.30 3.80 2.00
Brake 6.50 4.60 3.20 5.20 3.30 4.60 6.30 4.20 4.80 5.10
Minibus Taxi Tail 3.10 1.90 5.10 3.60 6.80 2.90 10.00 3.20 7.40 4.00
Brake 12.00 6.70 6.40 5.70 9.70 6.10 13.00 7.40 5.90 8.80
Bus Tail 3.10 1.30 1.70 3.20 3.00 3.60 1.50 3.70 1.70 2.50
Brake 6.30 5.30 3.30 4.80 4.50 2.40 1.50 7.30 1.70 4.80
Truck Tail 3.10 5.20 5.50 5.90 5.20 4.30 3.70 4.10 4.30 4.40
Brake 8.60 7.10 8.40 10.80 8.00 6.20 6.30 6.70 9.00

The figures in the table above indicate that 2% of light motor vehicles (motorcars and LDV’s), 4% of minibus taxis, 2,5% buses and 4,4% trucks in the RSA have at least one tail light (back) that is defective. The percentage of vehicles per type with defective brake lights are as follows: light vehicles 5,1%; minibus taxis 8,8%; buses 4,8% and trucks 8%. In North West 13% of minibus taxis and in the Eastern Cape 10,8% of trucks have defective brake lights. These figures are also reflected in the graph below.

  1. General Estimates:

    Based on the information obtained through the survey some estimates were made on the number of vehicles with defects etc. These estimates are provided in the table below.  
Estimated number of vehicles with the defects as indicatedd
Offence And/or Defect Vehicle class Number vehicles in this class (national total) Weighted average national offence rate Est. no. of vehicles with defects
No agreement: Number on li­cense disc & plate Light motor vehicle (motor car, minibus, LDV / “bakkie”) 5,679,323 0.4% 22,717
Tyres worn (Light motor vehicles)) Light motor vehicle 5,679,323 9.0% 511,139
Lights: Front Bright Light motor vehicle 5,679,323 1.6% 90,869
Lights: Front Flicker Truck 226,826 2.1% 4,763
Lights: Tail Truck 226,826 4.4% 9,980
Lights: Back Flicker Light motor vehicle 5,679,323 2.1% 119,266

The above figures indicate that there are:

  • About 22,717 light vehicles displaying false registration plates
  • 511,139 light vehicles with smooth/worn tyres
  • 90,869 light vehicles with front lights (bright) defective
  • 4,763 trucks with front flicker lights defective
  • 9,980 trucks with defective tail lights, and
  • 119,266 light vehicles with defective rear flickers lights.
  1. Ignoring Red Traffic Signals:

    Ignoring of traffic signals is a very serious offence and one that leads to the majority of fatal accidents in urban areas. Information on the average number of offences per phase is provided in the table below.

Ignoring Red Traffic Signals
Average no. of Offences per Phase

2002 0.79 0.40 0.40 0.35 0.48 0.86 0.29 0.58 0.16 0.56
2003 1.20 1.20 1.90 1.60 0.70 1.80 1.30 0.90 1.50 1.40
% Change 51.90 200.00 375.00 357.14 45.83 109.30 348.28 55.17 837.50

The figures in the table above indicate that traffic signal offences increased by 150% from a national average of 0.56 offences per phase to 1,40 offences per phase. Increases in this offence was experienced in all Provinces with the highest in the Northern Cape where the increase was 837,5% from an average of 0.16 offences per phase in 2002 to an average of 1,40 offences per phase in 2003. The traffic signal offence rate is the highest in the Western Cape with an average of almost 2 offences per phase. The second highest rate is in Mpumalanga with an average of 1,8 offences per phase. It should be noted from section 3.6 above that the driver alcohol rates in the Western cape and Mpumalanga were also amongst the highest and indicative of a possible link between the two types of offences. The above figures are also reflected in the graph below.


  1. Non-Wearing Rate of Seatbelts:

    Information on the percentage of drivers, front and backseat passengers not wearing seatbelts is given in table below.  
% Vehicle Occupants Not Wearing Seatbelts : Rural Roads : 20033
Driver - Unobserved 74.10 69.40 61.30 63.10 63.80 63.10 60.20 70.20 57.60 67.50
Driver - Roadblock 16.80 13.30 14.80 11.10 16.60 9.10 10.60 15.90 12.40 14.20
Front Pass - Roadblock 36.90 32.60 30.40 31.00 32.20 35.00 20.90 40.60 28.90 33.30
Back Pass - Roadblock 98.00 95.90 88.30 93.10 87.40 85.80 95.30 90.60 80.80

The figures in the above table indicate that, on average 67,5% of drivers during the un-observed, rural survey, did not wear seatbelts. This figure changed to 14,2% for the observed (roadblock) survey where they had the opportunity to quickly put on their seatbelts while waiting to be interviewed. The roadblock survey indicated that 33,3% of front seat passengers and 93,2% backseat passengers do not wear seatbelts. Based on the figure for drivers during the un-observed survey, these figures can be assumed to be higher in reality. The above figures are also reflected in the graph below.


The improved wearing of seatbelts will contribute to a reduction in the severity rate of accidents as seatbelts can assist in reducing fatalities and serious injuries by as much as 50%. Improved law enforcement on seatbelts at roadblocks will not have the desired effect as vehicle occupants will fit their seatbelts on approaching a roadblock. Possible other, more effective law enforcement procedures will have to embark upon, for example observations during moving road patrols.

  1. Overtaking Across Barrier Lines:

    Although there was a general improvement in this regard from 2002 to 2003, unsafe and illegal overtaking across barrier lines remains an issue of serious concern. Barrier line and overtaking offences are associated with head-on accidents, sideswipe accidents, as well as single vehicle accidents where one vehicle is forced off the road when an overtaking offence is committed in order to avoid a crash with another vehicle. This is one of the most dangerous offences a driver can commit. The survey results in this regard for 2002 and 2003 are given in the table and also reflected in the graph below.  
Overtaking Across Barrier Lines : All Vehicless
Average number of crossings per barrier line per hour
2002 10.50 9.00 4.20 5.10 3.00 27.30 4.80 2.40 0.90 8.70
2003 1.60 2.14 4.29 4.50 2.44 9.46 5.65 1.24 2.63

The weighted average number of overtaking offences at barrier lines is 3.27 offences per barrier line per hour (national figure). Considering how many barrier lines there are in the country, the scenario is frightening. For every 1 000 barrier lines on our roads, an average of 3 270 overtaking offences can be expected every hour! The seriousness of this situation is confirmed by the large number of fatalities that could be linked back to the barrier line offences. The most obvious accident types associated with overtaking offences are head-on collisions (1,031 fatalities during 2002); side-swipe same direction (183 fatalities). Together these overtaking related accident types accounted for 1,426 fatalities during 2002, or 17% of the total number of fatalities. Overtaking offences should be a high priority in enforcement and traffic management operations.

  1. Conclusion and Recommendation:

    Based on the 2003 Road Traffic Offence Survey Report it appears that the overall level of lawlessness has decreased from 2002 to 2003. Some of the offences surveyed are highlighted and discussed above, indicating in many respects that these levels are still too high and need to be addressed. In this regard it is recommended that:
    • All driver and vehicle fitness aspects, including driving licences, Professional Driving Permits (PrDP’s), un-licenced vehicles and vehicles of which the roadworthy certificates expired should be targeted through continuous law enforcement by means of roadblocks. (It is recommended that “Operation Juggernaut”, as part of Arrive Alive should become a continuous operation). All vehicle fitness aspects such as lights, tyres, brakes and steering systems should also be checked as a standard procedure. All the above enforcement aspects should also be made a standard and compulsory procedure at weighbridges.
    • A proper comprehensive record keeping system should be developed, introduced and maintained by all traffic authorities. Such information system must be a “national” nature so that all authorities have access to the information and identify regular (habitual) offenders and introduce additional measures, such as for example, making more use of sections 49 and 50 of the National Road Traffic Act, Act No. 93 of 1996, with regard to the responsibilities of Operators.
    • Adequate provision must be made by traffic authorities to improve enforcement on unsafe and illegal overtaking, skipping of red traffic signals and speed.
    • The cooperation of the Department of Justice needs to be obtained and a supportive adjudication systems (such as AARTO) needs to be put in place in order to ensure that all notices issued for traffic offences are concluded as soon as possible. An adequate and effective penalty system, which will encourage self-regulation of all road users, needs to be developed, adopted and put in place.
    • A way should be found to steer the media and the public away from pure statistics on road traffic accidents. More emphasis should preferably be placed by the media on the contributory factors to accidents and the responsibility of road users to curb offences that lead to accidents.