Cell phones and your vehicle insurance
Despite legislation, the majority of South African drivers ignore the law by using cell phones while on the road.
It is estimated that 25% of all road accidents are caused by drivers either talking or texting on their cell phones.
This bad and dangerous habit costs the country in the region of R76 billion annually.
According to Discovery Insure’s CEO, Anton Ossip, two-thirds of motorists make calls from their cell phones while on the road.
Discovery’s Cell Phones Driving Challenge
Discovery’s Driving Challenge app collects data from its users to ascertain cell phone usage while behind the wheel and has discovered that at 60km per hour, using your mobile equates to one kilometre of “blind” driving.
Their data has also revealed that 20% of their clients spend three minutes a trip, on average, on their mobile phones.
There are three main categories that cause road accidents. These are:
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol
Main causes of distracted driving
- Talking on a mobile
- Sending text messages from the mobile
- Reaching for an object inside the car
- Distraction by someone or something outside the car
- Reading a newspaper or book
- Eating a snack
- Applying lipstick or mascara
The long arm of the law
The South African National Road Traffic Act forbids the use of mobile phones while driving a vehicle. Hand-free devices are permitted.
If caught, motorists will be fined. Traffic bye-laws in the Western Cape also allow for the confiscation of the cell phone.
At present, most South African car insurance companies have not specified that the use of cell phones while driving will result in rejected claims.
However, should your insurance company assessor prove that you were using your cell phone at the time of the accident your claim will be rejected on the grounds of negligent and/or reckless behaviour.
It is a known fact that many motorists try to multi-task while driving. Using cell phones when behind the wheel can:
- Negatively impact on reaction time
- Distract the driver from keeping in his/her lane
- Reduce the ability to keep a reasonable distance from the car ahead
- Affect the speed at which the driver maintains the vehicle
- Impact on non-driving tasks such as checking the rear-view mirror
Industry leaders have ascertained that many South African motorists adopt a dismissive attitude to the serious implications of texting and talking on their cell phones while behind the wheel.
This attitude is concerning to experts who believe that cell phone usage is as bad as drunken driving because of the many distractions posed by this habit.
As road accident statistics involving mobile phones increase every year, it is not unlikely that the South African insurance industry will in future include this into their contracts as a clause for claim rejection.
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