Combining killer roads and killer drivers
Moloto Road is identified by the RTMC as the road with the highest accident risk in South Africa.

In a recent article released by The Citizen, entitled ‘Killer road or killer driver?’ the infrastructure upgrade to Moloto Road was discussed along with the cause of many crashes on this road.

Moloto Road is identified by the RTMC as the road with the highest accident risk in South Africa. It also has a reputation for being notoriously dangerous to drive on because of its disrepair.

At a press conference detailing the infrastructure upgrade, it was claimed that the road itself was not the cause of the high accident rate but rather that drivers are responsible for ‘the majority of crashes.’ The CEO of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, examines this claim: “Statistically it is estimated at least 90% of all crashes are due to human error. Thus, attributing the fault to drivers is not unrealistic.

“Yet, it is more productive to look at the situation comprehensively. Deciding whether drivers or the road is the problem, is not going to achieve the desired results: reduced crashes and fatalities. Instead, it is more realistic to acknowledge that combining those – and a few other factors - turns Moloto Road into a deathtrap.”

The Safe System is an approach to decreasing vehicle accidents that is adopted by many first-world countries and which MasterDrive incorporates into their training. “The Safe System focuses on developing a road system that can better handle driver error and remove some risk all together. An example is moving poles or other structures further away from the roadside so if a vehicle veers off it, there is less chance of collision.

“It creates a safe driving environment that acknowledges errors do happen and, consequently, minimises hazards that can make the consequences of these errors much worse. If we assess South Africa’s most dangerous road, more can be achieved in changing this by assessing it with the Safe System in mind.”

While it may be simple to place blame on human error, it is also erroneous. “If a motorist is travelling on Moloto Road at 120km/h instead of 80km/h and swerves to miss a pothole straight into oncoming traffic, is speed the only factor influencing this crash? The Safe System, would argue no.

“While speed plays a major role in reducing one’s ability to react to a hazard, if the hazard was not there in the first place and there was a greater division between the lanes, the consequences of such a crash could be much less. This is what the Safe System advocates: the combination of safe roads and roadsides, safe speed, safe vehicles and safe road users to significantly reduce risk and consequences of crashes.”

While extensive information about the infrastructure development of Moloto Road was not provided, it does appear that some of these elements are being considered. Thus, much of the remaining onus lies on motorists to now become compliant road users that understand why reckless driving is so dangerous and the role motorists play in a Safe System,” says Herbert