“South Africa has some of the worst road traffic injury statistics in the world,” says Arrive Alive. “Each year, millions of people are killed or injured on our roads.” The numbers of deaths and accidents increases at holiday time when friends and family commute long distance to be together, or to be lost forever.


Crunching numbers, Crushing lives – the hard stats

  • We saw 510 deaths over Easter 2018 between March 29 and April 9, which was a 14% increase in road deaths from Easter the previous year. 2017, itself, saw a 51% increase from Easter 2016[1].
  • 14 071 road fatalities were reported by RTMC in 2016 with an annual average of 38.5 per day[2].
  • Drivers aged 25 – 34 are the most likely to die on South African roads[3].
  • Almost 80% of all crashes in South Africa are a result of human influence[4].

Now add two beers, one red wine, a shot of tequila and a glass of champagne, and salient fact that alcohol abuse is behind at least 65% of the incidents and you can see why driving under the influence is the greatest tragedy happening on our roads right now.


Why drink driving is deadly:

  • Alcohol affects your cognitive functions. Driving requires these functions including hand-eye and hand-leg coordination and split-second decision-making. Driving, as such, is severely affected by alcohol intake.
  • Alcohol can also result in “inattentional blindness” which is when you don’t see surprise objects like the motorbike coming up to overtake you just as you decide to hook an impulsive right turn.


So, what’s my personal limit?

“The basic guideline in South Africa is that 2 drinks within 1 hour will put you on/over the legal limit.”

The legal limit is one tot. 1 tot = 8,4 g of ethyl alcohol. A beer generally has 13 – 16 grams of ethyl alcohol. So, a single beer is about equal to a double shot of something stronger, like brandy.


The NGO, South Africans Against Drunk Driving (SADD) says, “We have done extensive research in the field and the legal limit is less than 0.05 g for an ordinary driver and less than 0.02 g for a professional driver [taxi, bus, truck drivers].

You may be more sensitive than the average Jo-Anne.

  • You may have eaten a meal and not even feel the alcohol. It doesn’t matter in a court of law – if you’re over the legal limit, it’s illegal.
  • Medication you’re on may exacerbate the effect of alcohol and get you tipsy on a volume that’s beneath the legal limit. It doesn’t matter to the people you might injure in the accident – they don’t hurt less because of your medication…
  • Your metabolism may be slow at the mo and not burn the alcohol at the rate it usually would. If you followed the guide and still ended up inebriated, whose fault is that? Not the dead dog’s. And it doesn’t matter to your insurance claim for the car you wrote off, either – it’s still drunk driving and your claim will still fail.
  • And don’t think that if you didn’t have a blood test at the time, you’re safe. SADD helped two drink driving victims by having the ‘driving under the influence of alcohol’ charge added to his charge sheet.

Whether you use the unit test or other measures, trying to assess your own ability to drive when you’ve been drinking alcohol is asking for trouble.

The best way to assess your suitability to driving is not to drive at all after any alcohol intake. That’s why we love 24-hour taxis, all-night Ubers, and BFFs who count teetotalling amongst their many gifts.