THE COST OF ROAD ACCIDENTS ON INDIVIDUALS, BUSINESSES, AND THE COUNTRY
At the end of last year, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) estimated that the annual cost of road accidents in South Africa is around R168 billion. A key contributing cause of road accidents is poor driving, which can also increase fuel costs by an average of 15%. This can also increase overall company expenses.
Road safety is not a new concept to South African road users. Year-long initiatives, amplified by campaigns strategically implemented at high incident periods, are the norm – and for good reason.
As one example, the month of October is dedicated to road safety and transport matters every year. #OTM2020 (October Transport Month) is centered around the theme of ‘Together, shaping the future of transport.’ While the theme has a sharp focus on infrastructure projects and the importance of the transport industry for the country’s economy and general service delivery on our roads, it is also about reinforcing the need for road safety improvements.
During 2019, more than 12 500 lives were lost due to road accidents. Although this is a 3% decrease from the year before, it remains remarkably high. However, it is expected that this year’s figures will be lower due to reduced driving during the nationwide lockdown.
“We saw a significant reduction in mileage driven by our business insurance clients during the earlier alert levels of lockdown. Mileage driven reduced by as much as 86% during alert level. During this time, we saw a significant reduction in vehicle accidents. As the country and our client’s businesses have gradually opened up, we are seeing an increase in road usage and by implication, road accidents” says Lana Ross, Discovery Business Insurance Chief Operating Officer.
“During alert level 2, our business insurance clients were driving at 90% of their pre-COVID-19 level. During this time, there was an increase in clients reporting vehicle accidents”, she adds.
As people are driving more, road accident rates are starting to return to pre-COVID-19 levels. This highlights how necessary it remains to continue efforts to improve driving behaviour.
Discovery Drive for Business is a is a driver behaviour programme. It uses the latest telematics technology to measure and reward good driving.
ROAD ACCIDENTS ARE OFTEN CAUSED BY HUMAN ERROR
In the past decade, more than 132 485 South Africans have died on our country’s roads. In as much as 86% of these cases, human behavioural factors or errors were at play – and mostly during peak road accident periods, such as the festive season.
For example, during the period from 1 December 2019 to 15 January 2020, the primary causes of fatal road incidents included pedestrians, single vehicle overturning, and hit and run accidents; as well as head-on collisions.
Research shows that as much as 90% of road accidents occur mainly because of human error or poor driving behaviour. The three main causes are:
– Impaired driving from drugs or alcohol,
– Impatient or aggressive behaviour leading to speeding and harsh braking, and
– Distracted driving.
For vehicle fleets, driving without regular stops, unroadworthy vechicles, driver fatigue and improper cargo loading can also contribute towards road accidents and business losses.
VITALITY DRIVE FOR BUSINESS HELPS BUSINESSES IMPROVE THEIR DRIVING BEHAVIOUR
Vitality Drive for Business is a driver behaviour programme that uses the latest telematics technology to measure and reward good driving. It measures specific aspects of driving behaviour such as acceleration, braking, cornering, speed, time and location of the trip, distance, and cellphone use.
“Discovery Insure’s core purpose is to create a nation of great drivers. We have extended this idea to business insurance, where we used our Shared-Value insurance model to launch the Vitality Drive for Business programme. This programme offers great incentives to encourage businesses and their drivers to improve their driving behaviour. Companies can get up to 30% of their vehicle premiums back every year and drivers can also get weekly Active Rewards for driving well”, says Ross.
Businesses get access to vehicle safety features such as Impact Alert, where Discovery Business Insurance sends immediate emergency assistance if they detect a severe impact to an insured vehicle, even if they can’t get hold of the driver. In addition, businesses get access to a state-of-the-art online fleet portal that allows them to track their vehicles in real-time and monitor the driving behaviour of all their drivers.
“The Vitality Drive programme has worked incredibly well,” says Ross. “Our internal data shows that vehicles that have the best drivers have a claims experience that is 87% lower than those vehicles not on the Vitality Drive for Business programme. A lower claims experience means a reduction in the cost of vehicle accidents and indicates an improvement in risk management, thereby helping to improve the profitability and sustainability of the business. In addition, we were able to give our clients unique cash back on their vehicle premiums based on mileage driven during the alert levels of lockdown,” she adds.
“Driving behaviour is just one contributing factor to road safety; a vehicle’s overall condition is another. That’s why we also offer our clients up to 50% discount on any purchases such as tyres, batteries and wiper blades at Tiger Wheel & Tyre. This discount is based on the company’s Vitality Drive status”, says Ross.
“Focus should be on changing the fundamental road use behaviours that contribute to such high accident and road-related fatality rates in our country. When we all do our bit to improve how we use our roads, we can significantly help to make them much safer for us all.”
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