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Need for speed: SA’s young drivers

2013-04-16 10:06

ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT NEEDED: A survey reveals that young South African drivers are more disobedient on our roads compared to their global counterparts. Image - AFP

 
CAPE TOWN - Earlier in March 2013 we reported that Goodyear’s annual 2013 road safety survey revealed youth in South Africa were among the “most aggressive”  and “easily distracted” drivers in the world.

Rules, it seems, are there to be broken, at least by many young South Africans, as survey reveals that driver attitude could be a contributing factor to the distressing number of road deaths.

THE NEED FOR SPEED

The survey assessed the behaviour of 6400 drivers under the age of 25 in 16 countries. South African respondents ranked second highest (79% vs global 66%) to Polish speedsters (81%).

In the survey, South Africans ranked highest in admitting to an improper estimation of speed of traffic when changing lanes or overtaking (59% vs global 43%) and, even more frighteningly, topped the charts at disobeying traffic signals or signs (62% vs global 39%).

South Africans ranked fifth out of the 16 nations, with 38% (global 31%) admitting to reaching the speed limit of their cars.

Lize Hayward, Goodyear South Africa group brand communications manager, said: “Speeding is a real cause for concern as the split-second decisions we take when driving are governed by the parietal lobe area of the brain, which deals with perception and spatial processing.

“Driving too fast does not give the parietal lobe time to catch up, so makes it more difficult for us to judge distance and read the road.”

It appears the most responsible young drivers are to be found in the United Kingdom (UK) and Spain, where far fewer (54% and 40% respectively) admit to speeding. They are also the least likely to try out the top speed of their cars (18% and 19% respectively) and this is probably explained by strict levels of law enforcement and speed cameras.

Hayward said: “While National Transport Minister Ben Martins calls repeatedly for cautionary driving and an obedience of the rules of the road, Goodyear’s 2012 Young Drivers Road Safety Survey revealed that these are traits sorely lacking in the on-road mindset of South Africa’s young driver.

“We are in absolutely no way laying the blame for our tragic death toll particularly on our youngsters – we do not have those statistics, and in any case their driving habits are instilled through training and in mimicking the behaviour of their parents and other drivers, amongst other factors."

THRILL OF THE THROTTLE AND BOTTLE

An alarming 20% of young men (24%) and women (15%) globally admit to driving after having consumed alcohol.

About 45% of South African youngsters admitted to driving while drinking, 14% more than the next worst offenders, the Spanish (31%) and 16% more than the French (29%).

These figures are exacerbated when one considers the number of 17-24 year-old drivers whose favourite leisure time activity is going out to socialise at bars and clubs.

POOR ROAD BEHAVIOUR

Speeding and drunk driving aren’t the only area where young drivers are exhibiting dangerous behaviour. It appears that, despite having a licence for a few years, young drivers are also ignoring many rules of the road.

The 2013 survey revealed that 43% of men and 35% of women (average 39%) globally admitted to disobeying traffic signals or signs, with South Africans topping the list by far at an average 62%.

As many as 37% admitted to not using their indicators (South Africans 42%) and the same number admitted to taking corners too fast (South Africans 47%).

Germans headed the table for speeding up at orange traffic lights rather than slowing down (85%), with South Africans a close second (83% vs global average 73%). A staggering 24% of South Africans admitted to jumping red lights.
 
Overall results confirmed that men take more risks than women and are more inclined towards aggressive or dangerous behaviour. Parents continue to exert a positive influence on newly qualified drivers as differences that emerged in Goodyear’s survey showed that those still living at home appeared to be less aggressive on the road than those with a place of their own.

Young drivers who finished studying at an earlier age (18 or younger) are generally more inclined to make mistakes than those who continue their education longer. One example is that much as 47% of those respondents who had finished studying at 18 were inclined to disobey traffic signals compared to 36% of those who continued until they were 22 or older.

SA TOLL KEEPS RISING

Following the 2013 Easter weekend, the final death toll has been set at 241 between 28 March and 1 April, reports the Automobile Association (AA). 

AA spokesperson Gary Ronald said: “Little has been done in South Africa to create change or prevent road deaths during the busiest times of the year”.

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