South Africa dangerous roads
(Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Theana Breugem)
  • More than half of South Africa's most dangerous roads – or Hazardous Road Segments – are found in the Eastern Cape.
  • The Road Traffic Management Corporation has identified particularly deadly stretches of roads during the festive season by studying fatal crash data over the past three years.
  • The N2 highway connecting East London and Mthatha is considered South Africa's most dangerous stretch.
  • Roads in Limpopo, especially around Polokwane and Musina, also witness a large share of festive season crashes.
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South Africa's roads are notoriously dangerous during the festive season, with routes between towns and villages in the Eastern Cape being especially deadly.

More than 1,450 people died on South Africa's roads during the previous festive season, from 1 December 2020 to 11 January 2021. This equates to an average of around 34 road deaths a day. And although fatalities decreased by 10% compared to the previous festive period, traffic volumes also dropped because of the lockdown regulations which dissuaded travel.

The Road Accident Fund (RAF) recently reminded South Africans of the country's most dangerous roads, with routes in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo listed as the deadliest. The stretch of N2 highway between East London and Umtata and Umtata to Kokstad ranked as the worst. The N1 from Mokopane to Polokwane and Polokwane to Makhado in Limpopo followed.

The RAF, which provides liability and collision insurance coverage to all road users in South Africa, said that it had obtained the data from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC). But it didn't attach a specific period to the list of South Africa's dangerous roads, which featured the distance of the route between two destinations.

"[The] list of so-called dangerous roads does not seem to accord with the manner in which we determine hazardous roads, and it seems inaccurate," Simon Zwane, the RTMC's chief communication officer, told Business Insider South Africa.

"Our methodology for calculating hazardous routes does not state the number of kilometres as stated on this report. We only look at the segment of the road where the highest number of fatal crashes are reported."

Following questions to the RTMC, the RAF deleted its Twitter post listing "South Africa's most dangerous roads". 

The RTMC files annual road collision reports – tracking fatalities during the Easter period and festive season – and is provided with data directly from the South African Police Service (SAPS). The RTMC captures, processes, and verifies this data of all recorded fatal crashes.

Instead of listing dangerous routes according to the road between two destinations, the RTMC cites the road and SAPS area, where these crashes are recorded, in compiling its report on Hazardous Road Segments.

The RTMC methodology involves calculation of the absolute number of fatal crashes per road name or number for each of the 42 days – 1 December to 11 January – for the past three festive periods. The most recent festive period is weighted 60%, with the year prior at 30% and the year before that at 10%.

These are South Africa's 10 most dangerous roads during the festive season, in descending order, according to the RTMC.

Eastern Cape: N2 along Dutywa

dangerous roads in South Africa
N2 along Dutywa (Google Maps)

The stretch of N2 highway between Butterworth and Mthatha, passing through the town of Dutywa, is regarded as the most dangerous road during the festive season. It also forms part of the main route between East London and Mthatha, which was also been cited by the RAF as South Africa's most dangerous road.

Eastern Cape: R61 along Mbizana

dangerous roads in South Africa
R61 along Mbizana (Google Maps)

The R61 features prominently in the RTMC's list of Hazardous Road Segments. This specific stretch of road passing through Mbizana runs parallel to the Eastern Cape's border with KwaZulu-Natal. It's part of the route connecting Port Edward with Kokstad.

Eastern Cape: N2 along Mount Ayliff

dangerous roads in South Africa
N2 along Mount Ayliff (Google Maps)

This section of highway, passing through Mount Frere and Mount Ayliff, connects Mthatha and Kokstad. It's a stretch of road which extends from East London and Butterworth, making most of the N2 in the Eastern Cape a particularly dangerous segment.

Eastern Cape: R61 along Mzamba

dangerous roads in South Africa
R61 along Mzamba (Google Maps)

The stretch of road concerns the coastal portion of the R61 further south of previously mentioned Mbizana which connects Port Edward with Kokstad

Limpopo: R71 along Mankweng

dangerous roads in South Africa
R71 along Mankweng (Google Maps)

The R71 in Limpopo connects Polokwane with Tzaneen and sees an influx of motorists over the festive period. Many of these are cross border travellers, either leaving or coming back to South Africa.

Free State: N3 along Harrismith

dangerous roads in South Africa
N3 along Harrismith (Google Maps)

The N3 highway is a major route connecting Johannesburg and Durban. Many fatal collisions are reported to the SAPS in the town of Harrismith in the Free State near the KwaZulu-Natal border.

Eastern Cape: R61 along Libode

dangerous roads in South Africa
R61 along Libode (Google Maps)

This stretch of the R61 connects Port St Johns with Mthatha and is further south of previously mentioned high-collision zones near Mbizana and Mzamba.

Limpopo: N1 along Musina

dangerous roads in South Africa
N1 along Musina (Google Maps)

The N1 highway between Polokwane and Musina is one of South Africa's busiest stretches of road during the festive season due to its connection with Zimbabwe's border at Beitbridge. This high volume of traffic also makes it one of the deadliest.

Limpopo: R37 along Mecklenburg

dangerous roads in South Africa
R37 along Mecklenburg (Google Maps)

The stretch of R37 south of Polokwane connects Lebowakgomo with Burgersfort and, like other roads in Limpopo, also carries many cross-border travellers during the festive season.

Eastern Cape: N2 along Butterworth

dangerous roads in South Africa
N2 along Butterworth (Google Maps)

The more southern section of the N2 regarded as the most dangerous stretch of road in South Africa, passing through Dutywa, this part of the highway connects East London with Butterworth.

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