Wheels24 reports that 135,000 people have died in crashes on South African roads over the past decade. This is a devastating figure – equivalent to the number of spectators seated in two Cape Town soccer stadiums. That’s beyond tragic!

According to the Automotive Association (AA), bad driver attitude is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to these accidents. You can’t help but wonder if some drivers are perhaps enacting their aspirations to play a lead role in a local version of the 2 Fast 2 Furious movie (SA reload) or if sheer carelessness about road safety has become the norm. Bad attitude aside, when you slide into the drivers’ seat, you immediately become responsible to protect the lives of all passengers seated in your car and also to protect the lives of other road users. The condition of your vehicle is another aspect for which you have to take responsibility to prevent it from becoming a death carriage. If you don’t, the consequences might be costly (and even fatal).

But what if a specific vehicle’s design is to blame? Not all cars are made equal when it comes to safety. Do you know which cars have been rated as least safe in South Africa? It’s not always the obvious flaming red Ferrari or lime Lambo as one would expect and could even be more of a ‘functional oak’ than a crowd-pleaser.

According to the AA and The European New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP), their tests revealed the top five most dangerous cars on the road and suggested a few better alternatives. The assessment criteria included the following:


  • the availability and performance of the driver’s airbag;
  • the same for the passengers’ airbags;
  • anti-lock braking systems; and
  • electronic stability control.


Reflecting on their report, the AA stated that there was a “dire need” to beef up the safety standards in some models. We consider the top five.



     1.  JMC 4×2 Boarding (2018 models or older)



It’s on point for affordability, but far from perfect when it comes to its looks or safety features. It’s very basic and more functional than future driven. The JMC 4×2 Boarding also scored a big fat zero NCAP Global rating.

The vehicle has NO airbags to protect passengers against crashes and no lock brakes.

“If you require a versatile workhorse that can transport a hefty payload, the JMC Boarding is not a bad bet. It’s however not really suitable for family use because of the lack of safety features. But the carrying capability is there, as is amazing fuel consumption for a workhorse.”, states CAR magazine.


Alternative: Suzuki Vitara


2. Nissan NP300 Hardbody (2018 models or older)



The NP300 Hardbody might look like a bakkie that can take you places, but it’s highly likely to disappoint when it comes to safety. According to the AA, it achieved an alarming zero-star rating for its poor adult occupant protection, mainly in the driver head and chest areas, in the frontal crash test at 64km/h.

The bakkie’s structure also collapsed during a crash test and posed a danger for drivers despite the double frontal airbags. According to the AA, the NP300 Hardbody achieved two stars for child occupant protection.

Despite the Nissan NP300’s lack of safety features, it’s like the JMC 4×2 Boarding, a good workhorse, and is available with comforts like aircon, extra storage space and keyless remote entry.


Alternative: Nissan Navara


3. Renault KWID (2018 models or older)



The Renault KWID might look like the perfect first car for a tech-savvy millennial, but it scored a disappointing zero-star Global NCAP rating in 2018. Global NCAP Secretary-General, David Ward says: “It’s very disturbing to see such a poor result for the KWID”.  There’s no airbag for the poor front and back passengers. It also doesn’t come with standard ABS.


Watch the Renault KWID crash video


Although 2018 and older Renault KWID models didn’t have ABS as a standard across the range, the newer ranges (2018 to 2020) have it. The front passengers also have airbags now and the suspension of the vehicle has improved.


Alternative: Renault Clio


4. Fiat Panda (2018 models or older)



The Fiat Panda is perfect for the budget, but far from perfect when it comes to safety features. It scored a zero NCAP Global rating.

NCAP gave the Fiat Panda a safety rating of just 16% for child occupant protection, which Auto Express says is “the lowest rating ever awarded in this category” and “well below” the industry average score of 79%. NCAP testers says the Panda, which the magazine claims is Italy’s best-selling car, showed “poor” head and neck protection for children between the ages of six and ten. Side impact readings also uncovered “high injury risks” to children “due to head-to-head contact.”

Meanwhile, the Italian crossover was handed a 45% score for adult occupant protection and 47% for “vulnerable road users” – which includes pedestrians.


Alternative: Fiat 500


Next time you’re in the market for a new car, make sure that the safety features are on track. You can find car safety ratings here, if you’re unsure how to check it.

Stay safe and remember to get dotsure.co.za car insurance for those unexpected bumps in the road! Do a quick, online quote from the comforts of your couch in under five minutes here.


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