SA’s men can take some driving lessons from women
King Price’s client experience partner, Wynand van Vuuren

How do you know the average South African man is a good driver? Because he’ll tell you.

All jokes aside though, if recent global research by an Australian insurer is anything to go by, chances are that men have much to learn from their female counterparts – and data from local insurer King Price supports this statement.

According to Compare The Market’s international research, South Africa’s roads are the unsafest in the world, with the country ranked the highest out of 20 countries in terms of road fatalities for both genders. South Africa also has the biggest gender gap for fatal road accidents: 34.9 deaths per 100,000 people for males, compared to 9.9 per 100,000 for females. By comparison, the lowest-ranked United Kingdom sees 4.8 deaths per 100,000 for men and 1.6 per 100,000 for women.

According to King Price’s data, South African women are 10% more likely than men to have small accidents – that is, where the car is still driveable. However, they are 30% less likely than men to have major accidents, where the car is written off, says King Price’s client experience partner, Wynand van Vuuren.

“The stats suggest South African men are more likely to engage in risky behaviour on the road. As a result, they generally have higher car insurance premiums than women,” said Van Vuuren.

Men also tend to drive slightly more expensive cars. The leading vehicle types driven by male King Price clients are VW Polos, Ford Rangers, Toyota Hiluxes and BMW 3 series, while women drive VW Polos, Hyundai i10/i20/i30s, Ford Rangers and Ford Ecosports.

The lesson for both genders is that it’s critical to stay safe on the road. Here are King Price’s top three tips to reduce accidents on our roads.

  1. Avoid distractions

It’s estimated that texting while driving increases your chances of an accident 23 times. Even seemingly harmless behaviour like reading a WhatsApp message can lead to disaster. And distractions aren’t limited to messages: they include any activity that diverts your attention from driving, like talking on the phone, applying makeup, eating, drinking and smoking, and adjusting your radio or navigation system. Eyes on the road. Hands on the wheel. Focus.

  1. Don’t drive tired

Fatigue is a major contributor to accidents on our roads. Even if you don’t feel tired, research shows that your alertness and reaction times are significantly affected if you’ve been driving for too long. Generally, you should be resting for 15 minutes for every two hours of driving. “Get enough sleep the night before your trip. If you find yourself yawning while driving, pull over and take a break if it’s safe to do so. Or take turns behind the wheel,” says Van Vuuren.

  1. Drive defensively

Watch out for other drivers and people next to the road. Maintain a safe following distance, of at least 2-3 seconds, from the vehicle ahead of you. And look out for pedestrians: the AA estimates a third of all road fatalities in South Africa are pedestrians. “Be alert to road conditions and other road users’ and pedestrians’ unpredictable behaviour,” said Van Vuuren.

And finally, before you hit the road, check your car insurance. Ideally, you should have comprehensive insurance, which covers damage to your own car as well as your liability to third parties in case you accidentally cause damage to other people’s cars or property. Also, check whether your cover includes roadside, accident and medical assistance, in case anything happens along the way. “Buckle up. And stay alert. It’s a jungle out there,” says Van Vuuren.