As the holiday long weekend approaches, we’re already bracing ourselves for those Black Easter headlines reflecting the carnage on our roads. On average, more than 200 people die on South African roads over the Easter holiday period. But you can stack the odds in favour of arriving at your holiday destination safely by observing safer driving guidelines based on Discovery Insure’s research into driver behaviour.
• Avoid leaving on a Friday. Not only are the roads 15 % busier, driving is worse. On Fridays, increases of between 15 and 20 % have been reported in harsh acceleration, braking, and cornering, as well as speeding.
• Accelerate, brake, and corner smoothly, driving within the speed limit. These contribute towards cutting the risk of an accident by more than half.
• Complete a vehicle safety check before leaving. That reduces your risk of having an accident by 15 %.
• Avoid driving at night (between 10 pm and 4 am). You’re 10 times more likely to have an accident then than at any other time of day.
Research conducted by Discovery Insure states what should be obvious: driving long distances to a holiday destinations magnifies the risk of an accident. The 2014 research compares long-distance holiday driving to everyday driving. The key findings, compared with everyday driving?
• Drivers are less patient and in more of a hurry
• Speeding increases by 26 %
• Late-night driving goes up 5,5 % – but this raises the risk of being in an accident by as much as 30 %.
To be blunt, safer driving often comes down to a risk-benefits analysis. Example: driving the 565 km from Johannesburg to Durban will take about 5 ½ hours if you drive within the speed limit and take a quarter-of-an-hour break every two hours. Exceed the speed limit, don’t stop for breaks and you can do the trip in an hour less. But, says Discovery, that will double your risk of being in an accident, without factoring in the effects of driver fatigue.
Discovery has found that drivers rated good or excellent have a claim rate one-third lower than those rated poor or average. The company incentivises better driving and, interestingly, road accident claims from its members show a two-thirds lower fatality rate in vehicle accidents compared with the national average.
The primary goal is to improve the safety of our roads by encouraging better driving behaviour through increased knowledge and awareness of what makes a good driver, says Discovery Insure Executive Director Anton Ossip. “As we build our understanding of the risks associated with certain behaviours, we’re working to reduce the frequency of accidents and the cost of dealing with them while simultaneously saving lives.”