In 2015, the Road Traffic Management Corporation undertook a pilot study to investigate how prevalent driver inattention and distraction is in South Africa. Driver inattention and distraction is the leading factor in near-crashes in for instance the United States of America where indications are that 65 per cent of near-crashes involve some form of driver inattention within three seconds before an incident. This pilot project interrogated a small sample (non-representative) of naturalistic driving data collected from four drivers over a period of six months to explore whether or not South Africans are prone to distracted driving. Preliminary indications are that inattentive and/or distracted driving, including mobile phone use, distraction by passengers and other in-vehicle behaviours are indeed prevalent. In the majority of the data analysed, all drivers showed signs of general inattention and at least one type of distracted driving behaviour. The frequency with which these behaviours occur seems to be high, leading to the question whether inattentive driving has become the norm rather than the exception for South African drivers. The findings substantiate the need for a much larger study that could explore the problem on a national level.
Paper presented at the 35th Annual Southern African Transport Conference 4-7 July 2016 "Transport ? a catalyst for socio-economic
growth and development opportunities to improve quality of life", CSIR International Convention Centre, Pretoria, South Africa.