Discovery aims to save South Africa's roads


South African roads are among the most dangerous in the world, with almost 90% of accidents caused by bad driving. Discovery drivers are improving these stats, one behaviour change at a time.

What is the cost of bad driving? In 2015 alone, it’s estimated that road traffic collisions cost the South African economy R143 billion, which today can be predicted as over R178 billion.

Vitality Drive, Discovery Insure’s unique driver behaviour programme that rewards clients for driving well, is proving to not only save clients’ money, but is also having an impact on South African society. Through the Vitality Drive programme, data shows that if all South African drivers were Gold and Diamond status drivers, there would be a predicted reduction of between 70% - 90% in accident frequency and severity. “This reduction in accident frequency and severity means that having safer drivers would save the economy annually between R120 billion and R155 billion,” says Anton Ossip, Discovery Insure’s Chief Executive Officer.

“This saving lowers the proportional spend on GDP from 3.26% to between 0.98% and 0.33%, which has an impactful financial and healthcare cost saving while also benefitting society as a whole. The saving could be deployed elsewhere in the economy”

“Car accidents are the largest contributor to unnatural childhood deaths,” says Professor Sebastian van As at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town. Van As is the Head of the Trauma Unit, which treats almost 10 000 children annually.

Devastating road accidents are avoidable if more people drive better

The Road Traffic Management Corporation reports that a total of 14 071 people died on South African roads in 2016, 9% more than the previous year. It was also the highest annual road death toll since 2007, when 14 920 people died.

The numbers are grim – and there’s no doubt that the huge majority of these devastating accidents could have been avoided if people drove better.

Professor van As believes that individual drivers have the power to make South African roads safer – one change at a time. He describes the Western Cape’s Safe Travel to School programme as a highly successful initiative that helps to prevent needless child fatalities. The programme was launched in 2014 by Discovery in partnership with ChildSafe, and it incentivises drivers who transport school children to drive more carefully.

“The stats clearly show that rewarding these drivers for driving better has seen a dramatic improvement in their driving. We’ve recorded 87% less harsh accelerations, 92% less harsh cornering, 25% less harsh braking incidents and 25% less speeding than other Cape Town drivers,” says Ossip.

“All these safer driving behaviours compound, and the overall result is that regular drivers are developing and cementing better driving habits that undoubtedly save lives.”

Discovery’s best drivers have 63% less accidents than their worst

Discovery Insure aims to create a nation of great drivers and safer roads, says Ossip, who believes that incentivising good driving behaviour is a major motivator for achieving both of these goals.

“Our data shows that since its launch, there’s been a 41% reduction in the number of harsh driving events for drivers who earn Vitality Active Rewards for driving well each week, with our best drivers having 63% less accidents – and 77% less severe accidents – than our worst drivers.”

Social accountability can help you drive more safely

In 2014 and 2015, the Discovery Insure Driving Challenge gave members the opportunity to participate as part of a group of family and friends. The bigger the group, the more the driving score improved – from 7% where the driver was not part of a group, to 14% where there were five drivers. This clearly demonstrates the positive effects of peer pressure.

The Vitality Drive programme has proven to be so effective that Rory Byrne, a former Chief Designer for Ferrari Formula One and Advisor to Discovery Insure said, “I am confident that if you extended the Vitality Drive programme to every driver in the

country, you’d have a noticeable and consistent reduction in accidents.”

This is precisely what Discovery has done with the launch of their 10-week Vitality Open: inviting not just Discovery Insure members but all drivers nationwide to join their journey to a safer and healthier South Africa.

Vitality Open participants earn exciting rewards for driving better 

For this limited time, anyone over 18 years can download the latest version of the Discovery app and the Discovery Insure driving app and achieve a weekly drive goal to earn exciting rewards. When you achieve a goal, you get a play on the Vitality Open game board. This can earn you beverages, meals and online shopping rewards at a range of reward partners. You can also use plays to gain a chance at winning prizes – like running shoes, flights and the latest iPhone – for life.

To enjoy the benefits of social accountability and some friendly competition with your family and peers, participants can invite their friends to join Vitality Active Rewards and challenge each other to get active and drive well. “It’s a fun way to positively influence each other’s driving behaviour,” says Ossip, “while making our roads safer for everyone.”

Become a driving force

Follow Discovery’s 7-point plan to drive well and get rewarded.

  1. Accelerate smoothly and avoid aggressive driving behaviours to reduce your risk of having an accident.
  2. Brake with control to give yourself time to react to anything that may obstruct your path. Always leave three seconds of driving space between you and the car in front of you.
  3. Corner calmly at a slow speed before entering a corner to ensure you remain in control - it’s impossible to know what lies around it.
  4. Stick to the speed limit at all times and always slow down in wet weather. Speeding is a major predictor of car accidents in South Africa.
  5. Stay off your phone. Research shows that drivers who use cellphones while driving are eight times more likely to have an accident. A single instance of cellphone usage represents an average of 52 seconds of distracted driving. At 60km/h, this translates to driving ‘blind’ for one kilometre.
  6. Avoid night driving because the likelihood of having a car accident is seven times higher than during the day. This is due to decreased visibility, your ability to stay focused and an increased number of impaired drivers on the road. Always reduce your speed and increase your following distance at night, or better still, take an Uber.
  7. Do not drive after drinking. Despite stronger policing, too many accidents are caused by people who think they are okay to drive after drinking. Besides this being a criminal offense, your ability to control your vehicle and have full awareness of your surroundings declines quickly after consuming alcohol

Your phone can now talk to us if you can’t

With Discovery Insure’s panic button, your phone can talk to us if you find yourself in danger and need help fast. Press your Android smartphone’s power button at least five times in quick succession to alert us if you find yourself in an emergency situation. We’ll be able to track exactly where your vehicle is and send a response team to help.

Discovery Insure's Impact Alert sends help when you need it most

Wish you had the technology to call for help when you most need it? Discovery Insure’s Impact Alert feature can detect when you’ve been in an accident. If we can’t get hold of you immediately, we’ll send emergency assistance to your location, while our Vehicle panic button can be used to alert emergency services when you’re in your car and need help.

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