Motorcycle Safety Analysis for South Africa: 2018

Motorcycle safety and the lives of those who enjoy life on 2-wheels, for work or pleasure, are incredibly important to MSI. Motorcyclists are the most vulnerable road users and represent a significant portion of the trauma on our roads each year. Motorcyclists are more exposed to crash risk than other road users which is due to the design and performance of these machines, their sensitivity to the difference in road surface and design, and the lack of protection for riders and passengers compared to occupants of other vehicles. These factors all contribute to the continued involvement of motorcyclists in fatal and serious injury crashes on South African roads. Other common factors to all road user groups such as speed, alcohol, and fatigue also influence the motorcyclist road toll.

Apart from our Crash Data, valuable raw data has also been collected from our online tests and survey, data we’ve compiled and analysed to benefit those who participated and those who have not. Be sure to learn from our research then make the necessary adjustments on a personal level.

These included:

Let’s begin with an overview of Motorcycle Crash Data for the years 2018 (2017).

Motorcycle Crash Data: 2018

In 2018 (2017), more than 183 (166) motorcycle riders and passengers have lost their lives and more than 508 (521) riders and passengers have been injured on South African roads. Motorcycles represent almost 2.1% of the number of registered vehicles in South Africa, and although these figures may seem insignificant compared to other road users, these are still lives altered in some way or another.

The gender split remained consistent with 651 (631) Males and 58 (56) Females were involved in the total crashes. While the numbers of females injured have increased, males are significantly more likely to lose their lives or be seriously injured than females.


  • 9% increase in Fatalities
  • 26% Fatality Rate
  • 92% were Male (25% Fatal & 72% Injured)
  • 25% were aged 30-39
  • 87 Crashes in March, the highest for 2018
  • 26 Deaths in September, resulting in a 37% Fatality Rate
  • 14 Average Crashes every Week

Note that, in no way does this report represent the total Motorcycle Crashes; but is based on reported crash data, collected from credible sources and agents.

Crash Type Data

MOC: Motorcycle Only Crash | MVC: Motorcycle Vehicle Crash | MPC: Motorcycle Pedestrian Crash | MAC: Motorcycle Animal Crash

491 (464)146 (163)17 (14)1 (2)

Note: From the Crash Type Data we learn that almost 75% of the total crashes involved a Motorcycle and Another Vehicle. This is what you can expect from riding a motorcycle in High-Risk Dynamic Urban Traffic conditions.


  • 87% of the total MVCs occurred at Junctions
  • 24% of the total MVCs were Fatal (73% Injured)
  • 72% of the total MVCs occurred in Urban Traffic
  • 53% of the total MVCs occurred during Peak Hours

Time of Day Data

In 2017, we only captured “Day-time” / “Night-time” and not Time Frames.

6-9 AM9-12 AM12-3 PM3-6 PM6-12 PM12-6 AM

Note: From the Time of Day Data we learn that over 50% of the total crashes occurred during Peak Traffic hours. This is what you can expect from riding a motorcycle in High-Risk Dynamic Urban Traffic conditions. Other contributing factors are:

Morning Peak: Road Users are on their way to work; some rushed, some still tired, mostly irritable with traffic conditions or road user attitudes, some already multitasking and generally distracted by or occupied with their schedules of the day ahead.

Afternoon Peak: Road Users are on their way home; mostly rushed, mostly tired, mostly irritable with traffic conditions or road user attitudes, certainly distracted by or occupied with personal issues (relationships) or circumstances (home) and significant events (work) of the past day. Interesting to note that the afternoon peak poses a higher risk than the morning peak.

Further to this, traffic in some cases is severely congested during these peaks, which increases the risk factor by more than 30%.


  • 45% of all Fatal Crashes occurred during Peak Hours
  • 47% of all Injury Crashes occurred during Peak Hours

Motorcycle Type Data

250 (243)26 (37)86 (63)36 (50)47 (47)78 (45)10 (8)132 (152)

Note: From the Motorcycle Type Data we learn that almost 40% of the total crashes involved a Sports Motorcycle. The biggest factor attached to Sports Motorcycles is speed, but don’t be blinded by that alone; the highlights below reveal a surprising twist to common perceptions.


  • Sports Motorcycles carry a 38.8% Fatality Risk & 59% Injury Risk
  • Adventure Motorcycles carry an 80.7% Injury Risk
  • Street Motorcycles carry a 77.6% Injury Risk
  • Scooters carry an 83% Injury Risk
  • Cruisers carry a 69% Injury Risk

Age Group Data

In 2017, we did not capture nor had access to sufficient Age Group data.


Note: Although unit sales have been on the decline since 2009, parents have also lost interest in putting their kids on motorcycles as a mode of transport in the last 5 years. Young folks are especially at risk when riding to school or college wearing nothing more than their uniforms, let alone the lack of training in some areas.

For the sake of sustainability, our industry should certainly increase their efforts to address the Young Rider market segment.


  • Ages 20-29 involved in 23% of the Total Injured
  • Ages 30-39 involved in 22% of the Total Injured
  • Ages 40-49 involved in 19% of the Total Injured
  • Ages 30-49 involved in 43% of the Total Fatalities
  • Ages 50-59 involved in the highest (39.6%) Fatality Rate

Road Type Data

We only capture Road Crash Data, not Off-Road or Gravel Road Crashes.

434 (405)118 (112)96 (121)

Note: Figures show a slight increase in Urban and Freeway road crashes, but a 20.7% decrease on Rural roads. Due to traffic congestion (Dynamic Mass), Urban riders are at a 66% higher risk, especially at Peak Times.


  • 67% of all crashes occurred on roads with speed limits of up to 60 km/h (Urban)
  • 74% of all Urban Crashes occurred during the late afternoon/early evening hours
  • 39.6% of Fatal Crashes occurred on Rural Roads
  • 77% of Injured Crashes occurred on Urban Roads

Province Data

312 (304)138 (128)12 (31)11 (18)25 (11)8 (9)114 (102)22 (32)7 (6)

Note: Gauteng shows the highest figure due to a much higher rider representation than any other province in South Africa, with a slight overall increase from 2017.


  • 43% of all Injuries occurred in Gauteng
  • 45% of all Fatalities occurred in Gauteng
  • 81% is the highest Injury Rate maintained by KwaZulu-Natal


Change the way you think and you will change the way you ride!

It’s been another bad year for motorcyclists. Lives were lost or altered in more ways most of us can comprehend. Will we see a drop in these figures? No, not until things change, and by “things” I refer to our way of thinking which ultimately affects our way of riding.

Yes, motorcyclist awareness (education and legal implications) by other road users MUST be addressed, but how do you change someone who is reluctant to change, clearly more distracted, and with a lot less to lose than motorcyclists?

The onus, thus, rests on us to change – at least take the first step to improve our own safety, simply because we are at a much higher risk than any other road user.

Test Results & Analysis

As mentioned earlier, valuable raw data has also been collected from our online tests and survey, data we’ve compiled and analysed to benefit those who participated and those who have not. Be sure to learn from our research then make the necessary adjustments on a personal level.

These included:

Let’s dig in and learn.

Risk Exposure Test

This test helped 774 participants to find out if they are doing it right, or if you are pushing the envelope.

Note: From the very interesting findings below, it is crystal clear that we have a lot of work to do, both from an MSI standpoint and on a personal level. The major concern for me from the figures below is the high % of riders who taught themselves to ride and a similar % of riders who do not know how to separate braking from swerving.


  • 302 (39%) have Motorcycle Learner Licenses
  • 574 (74%) have a Full Motorcycle License
  • 30 (4%) licenses have been revoked
  • 45 (5.8%) had more than 2 Speeding Fines in a 12 month period
  • 31 (4%) had more than 2 Crashes in a 12 month period
  • 73 (9%) have less than 6 months Riding Experience
  • 604 (78%) have more than 24 months Riding Experience
  • 276 (36%) have been taught to ride by Friends/Family
  • 540 (69%) have taught themselves to ride
  • 416 (54%) have completed a Basic Rider Course
  • 537 (69%) have not attended Advanced Rider Courses
  • 156 (20%) ride after consuming Alcohol
  • 591 (76%) often ride on Urban Roads
  • 238 (31%) often ride at Night
  • 460 (59%) don’t ride in Rain
  • 654 (84%) can name 20 Common Road Hazards
  • 114 (15%) don’t know how to use Counter Steering
  • 108 (14%) battle with Cornering
  • 461 (60%) don’t know how to separate Braking from Swerving
  • 665 (86%) wear protective Riding Gear
  • 718 (93%) don’t ride with an Open-face Helmet
  • 531 (69%) often Lane Split / Filter in moving Traffic
  • 205 (26%) are impatient in Urban Traffic

Rider Survey

This survey provided insights into the riding experience, protective gear use, crash experiences, and demographic characteristics of 893 participants.

Note: A vague observation would be that the older, licensed Male rider who resides in Gauteng, rides his Adventure motorcycle on Urban Roads mainly for recreation during the week, usually after 2-3 beers, who had no formal training, and was involved in an MVC. 

Of course, this is just an observation based on participant input and drawn from the highlights below. You can make your own assumption…

From this, I’d suggest you enroll in the appropriate form of rider training, invest in proper riding gear, get out of the city more often, only carry enough money for fuel and food, and take your better half with.


  • 35% of participants are in the 50-59 Age Group
  • 89% were Male
  • 53% reside in Gauteng
  • 79% use their motorcycles for Recreation
  • 51% riding on Urban Roads
  • 43% ride Adventure Motorcycles
  • 81% hold a Full Motorcycle License
  • 75% had no formal Rider Training
  • 51% ride during the Week
  • 56% have 2-3 drinks before a ride
  • 65% have been involved in a Motorcycle Vehicle Crash (MVC)

Basic Safety Quiz

This test provided 701 participants with valuable information on what level they operate their motorcycles on South African roads. Each participant was given 50 key questions to answer, and in the end, graded their basic knowledge.

Now, I’m not going to list all 50 questions and answers here, but the average score was 41/50.


  • 24% scored below the 40/50 average
  • 25/50 was the lowest score
  • 22% scored above the 45/50 average
  • 49/50 was the highest score achieved by 23 participants

I strongly believe participants learned a valuable lesson with every question, and I’m encouraged to see an above-average final score.

Why don’t you give the Basic Safety Quiz a go and see how your score turns out.

Rider Training

I cannot emphasise enough, the vital importance of motorcycle rider training and the immediate to long-term effects it will have on crash injuries and fatalities.

There should be no question “Why should I get trained?”. It must become the norm, a sales tool to the dealer, a way of life for the rider, an element in lifestyle promotions, and a focus point to government.

I am happy to add that our Academies & Riding Schools page has had 5052 visits in 2018, and I trust that the majority of these visitors actually attended a course or two. If you haven’t, then, what’s your excuse!

Ride with Skill & Confidence – Get Trained!

To the day I leave GOD’s green earth, I will not falter in my belief and efforts of Rider Training, Motorcycle Safety & Risk Awareness. All of the above stats come down to one thing, and one thing only – Training, followed by a good dose of patience, anticipation, and respect before you swing your leg over that machine.

So, despite the obvious benefits of rider training, why do most people avoid it?

Well, it comes down to the following, and in this order: Mindset, Location, Urgency, Cost

The scary fact is, I was once told by a psychologist, the average person only uses up to 25% of his/her brain, then add a generous 15% of common instinct (which is habitual), and the balance of 60% is left to chance. There’s our problem!

Like the body, the brain needs constant training to stay sharp, develop good habits; thus, when trained consistently our brains build muscle or mental memory.

We are what we think, and we ride how we think … with only 25-40% of our mental muscle.

Change the way you think today, and you will change the way you ride tomorrow.

Hein Jonker

On a personal note, I’d like to thank my amazing wife and family for their ongoing sacrificial support. My deepest gratitude to my sponsors, supporters and friends, EMS heroes, Traffic Authorities, media partners, and mentors. It’s been tough and challenging most of the time, but very rewarding if this saves one life. To you on 2-wheels, please stay the hell off my stats!

I certainly have learned a lot, and I sincerely believe you have too. To all the Other Road Users, please remember that Every Motorcycle Carries a Life. Share the roads with us with the necessary respect and consideration, and I promise you, we’ll return the favour.

Feel free to contact me with any questions, suggestions, or concerns you may have. Ride to Live!