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The Reasons for Motor Car Dependence in South Africa

Published on: 28 April 2015

It is estimated that there are 52. 98 million people in South Africa and, out of this massive population, an estimated 9 797 413 people own legally-registered vehicles. 14 million South African citizens make use of minibus taxis, and the rest of the population is recorded as using interspersed means of passenger and public transport.

When taking a look at South Africa’s population demographics, it is difficult to believe that there is at all a dependence on motor vehicles when the majority of the locals rely heavily on some sort of public transportation network. However, there are commuters who depend entirely on the fact that they have a vehicle with which to get to and from work. Owning a vehicle comes with the responsibility of taking care of it – and this is executed in the form of car insurance. When depending so heavily upon your vehicle, it is imperative that you protect your asset, and yourself, from any damage or legal implication in the event of an accident.

Motor car dependence in South Africa can be attributed to a number of reasons, some of which are applicable to all commuters, both private and public.

Absence of Choice

Individuals who are dependent on their motor vehicle are often living above their monthly earnings. Although a vehicle is a luxury, the absence of choice gives them no other option of transportation. Often those who depend on their vehicles do not live close to a transportation network, nor do they work the type of job or hours that will allow them to rely on a public transport system.

For example: a mother who lives in Edenvale and works in Kempton Park as a sales person will need to drop her children off at school, and get to work. During the day, she will need to use her vehicle to get to her clients. There is no affordable or reliable public transport option that will allow her to successfully complete her daily tasks.

Limited or No Integrated Public Transport Network

There is a large population of South Africans who live on the outskirts of major cities or business hubs. South Africa’s transport system does not reach beyond the main routes of big cities, leaving many suburban and rural commuters with a limited or non-existent integrated public transport network. Not only does this force commuters to rely on their own vehicles, it also decreases the urgency at which relevant state departments are required to implement transport solutions.

Questionable Safety and Reliability

Applicable to both private and public commuters, all of South Africa’s public transportation systems are criticised for their questionable safety and reliability. Theft, assault and collisions are just three of the many safety concerns of travelling using public transport. Strikes and irregular maintenance also affect the reliability of the respective systems. When South African commuters can afford a vehicle and the costs that accompany it, they will opt to stay away from all forms of public transport to ensure that they are both safe and on time for work.

Lack of Efficiency

Working hand in hand with reliability, the efficiency of South Africa’s public transport system has also been questioned. Not only does irregular maintenance affect the efficiency of a certain system, regular striking also affects the manner in which systems are operated. Apart from late arrivals and departures, the ticketing and billing systems are also tainted, leaving commuters in an unfortunate situation with no solution.

These factors come together to form the many gaps that often force commuters to invest in a privately owned vehicle. If you depend on your motor vehicle to get to and from work, be sure to double check your vehicle insurance policy to get the best out of your investment.

Just how much do we rely on cars? For more, click here.