South Africa has one of the highest road accident rates in the world, with around 25% of those accidents caused by cellphone use while driving.
According to the International Transport Forum’s 2013 Road Safety Annual Report, South Africa experiences 32 accidents per 100,000 people per year.
The cost of this in human tragedy is enormous, while the economic impact is R307 billion a year – representing between 8% – 10% of GDP.
Alcohol, speeding, and distracted driving are the three biggest causes of road accidents in South Africa, with the use of cellphones while driving one of the top causes of driver distraction.
Dangers of using cellphones while driving
Cellphone usage while driving affects driver competence, resulting in a 37% decrease in parietal lobe activity in the brain.
Discovery Insure CEO Anton Ossip said that despite legislation prohibiting it, two-thirds of drivers still make cellphone calls while driving.
“Many people attempt to text while driving and, and even though 40% of drivers have hands-free kits, 80% of their calls are made without using them.”
Discovery Insure Driving Challenge
To address the problem of road safety, Discovery Insure launched its Discovery Insure Driving Challenge (DIDC) programme.
It is centred on the DIDC app, which is designed to help drivers become more competent and aware behind the wheel.
Data collected from users of the app shows that a single instance of mobile phone usage represents an average of 52 seconds of distracted driving.
At 60km/h, this is equivalent to driving “blind” for one kilometre, and makes the driver four times more likely to have an accident.
The data also shows the worst 20% of drivers use their phones for an average of three minutes per trip.
Cellphone usage while driving
In a recent presentation by Darryl Grater, head of special projects at Discovery Insure, he explained that when people take a call or try to text while driving, they typically slow down.
After a while the person makes a correction, and increases speed.
These changes are not only distracting to the driver, but also increases the dangers of an accident because of the increase of G-Force during the changes.
The image below shows the changes which Discovery Insure found through the data they collected from drivers.