South Africa is the most dangerous country to drive in, according to a new study

South Africa is revealed as the most dangerous country to drive in, based on a variety of factors. 

New data by Zutobi analyses factors such as the number of alcohol-related road traffic deaths, the maximum motorway speed limit, and the front seat-belt wearing rate, to reveal the world’s safest countries to drive in.

The world’s top 10 most dangerous countries for driving

Rank Country Estimated road traffic death rate (per 100,000 population) Maximum motorway speed limit (kph) Front seat-belt wearing rate (%) Road traffic deaths attributed to alcohol (%) Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for drivers (g/dl) Overall Score/ 10
1 South Africa 22.2 120 31 57.5 0.05 3.41
2 Thailand 32.2 120 40 14.1 0.05 4.35
3 United States 12.7 130 90.1 29 0.08 5.03
4 Argentina 14.1 130 40.8 17 0.05 5.06
5 India 15.6 120 7.3 4.1 0.03 5.48
6 Bosnia and Herzegovina 13.5 130 51 20.8 0.03 5.62
7 Croatia 7.9 130 61.9 23.8 0.05 5.62
8 Malaysia 22.5 110 73.8 0.1 0.08 5.63
9 Peru 13.6 100 15.8 9.3 0.05 5.74
10 Bolivia 21.1 80 3.5 6.4 0.05 5.74

On the flip side, the research also reveals the most dangerous countries for driving. 

The most dangerous country to drive in is South Africa, which has by far the lowest safety driving score of just 3.41/10. There are an estimated 22.2 road traffic deaths per 100,000 of the population in South Africa and only 31% of front-seat passengers in South Africa are estimated to wear a seat belt.

Thailand is the world’s second most dangerous country to drive, scoring just 4.35/10. This is due to Thailand having one of the lowest seat belt wearing rates, and possibly the fact that the primary mode of transport used in the country is motorbikes.

The United States is ranked as the third most dangerous country to drive in, with a driving safety score of 5.03/10. This is due to 29% of road traffic deaths in the US being attributed to alcohol, which is consistent with its high limit for blood alcohol concentration for drivers (0.08%).

India saw its road traffic death rate increase by over 50% from last year, from 15.6 to 22.6 per 100,000 people.

The world’s safest countries for driving 

Rank Country Estimated road traffic death rate (per 100,000 population) Maximum motorway speed limit (kph) Front seat-belt wearing rate (%) Road traffic deaths attributed to alcohol (%)

Blood 

alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for drivers (g/dl)

Overall Safety Driving Score/ 10
1 Norway 2.1 110 95.2 13 0.02 8.20
2 Iceland 2 90 93 14 0.05 8.05
3 Estonia 4.5 120 97.3 10 0.02 7.90
4 Japan 3.6 120 98 5.6 0.03 7.88
5 Moldova 7.3 90 61.8 9.4 0.03 7.73

Norway ranks first with a safety driving score of 8.20/10, due to low road traffic death rates and high seatbelt use.

Iceland is a close second with a 8.05/10 safety driving score. Iceland’s maximum motorway speed limit is set at 90km/h, which is much lower than the average (120km/h for countries in this rating).

Estonia is the third safest country to drive in with a 7.90/10 safety driving score. Estonia has one of the highest seat-belt wearing rates for front-seat passengers in the world (97.3%), while the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for drivers is one of the lowest (0.02%).

Further findings:

  • Bolivia is the country with the lowest maximum speed limit - 80km/h on motorways. 
  • Hungary and Cuba impose a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy towards driving under the influence - driving with any concentration of alcohol in the bloodstream is not permitted. 

The full research with a breakdown of the methodology can be found here