Webfleet has released its second annual Road Safety Report for 2023, conducted between June and August, and gathering responses from 54 individuals representing 7 948 trucks operating in South Africa.
“With the survey now presenting at least two years of data, we are now able to identify persistent patterns as well as one-off events or feedback from participants,” says Justin Manson, sales director at Webfleet South Africa. “This information needs to be utilised by all stakeholders so they can make choices that help to keep all road users safer on the roads.
“There have been some clear trends consistent with the first report like the condition of road infrastructure and the effects of congestion on driver concentration and well-being. However, it is concerning to note not only high levels of road incidents, but also an increase in their severity,” he says.
The latest study recorded a total of 1 313 collisions, a massive increase compared to last year, when only 1 252 collisions occurred out of a total of 14 073 trucks measured.
Out of the 10 respondents who were worst affected, representing 87% of incidents, five stated that most incidents occurred at night between 10pm and 6am. One respondent experienced an incident prevalence between 10am and 2pm, while another considered the hours between 2pm and 6pm as the most problematic.
When asked to rate the most prevalent causes of incidents, respondents identified other drivers, poor road conditions, and criminal activity as the most common.
When asked to name the biggest challenges they faced in maintaining road safety, respondents identified road conditions (59,26%), driver behaviour (59,26%), compliance (44,44%) and cultivating a safety culture (31,48%) as the top concerns.
Other factors included fatigue management (24,07%), driver training (24,07%), vehicle maintenance (22,22%), budget constraints (14,81%), technological limitations (5,56%) and criminality.
“You could distil these into two or three factors as they address the same objectives,” Manson says. “For instance, without sufficient budget, an operator could not afford training, technology, or substantial programmes that drive a culture of safety. Chasing profits often leads to more driver fatigue and greater risk of injury to road users.”
Measuring road safety policies
The most common method of measuring the effectiveness of road safety policies was the use of driver incident reports and analysis (72,22%), followed by driver behaviour monitoring through telematics or GPS tracking (66,67%). Vehicle maintenance and inspection records were used by 53,70%, vehicle collision data and analysis by 51,85%, and safety protocol and policy compliance by 50%.
Around 80% of respondents called for increased government funding for road infrastructure development and maintenance. Additionally, 51,85% wanted to see improved road signage and markings, and 50% wanted enhanced driver education and licensing requirements.
Telematics for safety
Over 80% of the respondents said using a fleet telematics system was effective in reducing collisions, and half said the impact of this technology in preventing incidents is significant.
“Although telematics technology can very quickly have a strong impact on a business, operators must always look at what they can do across all operations,” says Manson. “Without proper training, maintenance of vehicles, and policies designed for driver well-being, even the best digital tools have their restrictions and limits.”