Driving smarter

2014-10-27 06:00

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The Discovery Insure driving app can make you a better driver and save you cash

Rewards programmes are generally aimed at changing people’s spending habits or their behaviour.

The Discovery Insure driving app is more inclined to the latter. According to Discovery, the idea of its driving challenge is that better drivers make fewer claims.

The company also hopes that any attempt to change South Africans’ driving habits (our accident and fatality rates on the roads are among the worst in the world) is a change for the good.

Anton Ossip, the CEO of Discovery Insure, says the company has been able to correlate driving and claims.

Better drivers claim less and when they do claim, the size of their claim is smaller. It is therefore worth offering drivers an incentive to improve their driving skills.

The big incentive is a reduction in fuel and the monthly cost of fuel – and some people are getting close to R800 a month off on their fuel spend.

The more points a driver collects, the more money they save. Points are calculated using the driving score and other factors like the state of the car, completion of training and courses to improve driving skills.

Ossip has a score of 73. He said his family has had to deal with death due to road accidents and if this approach saved families from having to deal with that kind of tragedy, the initiative would be successful.

“We want to create a culture change,” he says.

Discovery Insure executive director Themba Baloyi, whose score is a remarkable 97, says Discovery has put more than R130?million back into clients’ pockets.

Usage to date confirms that women are, without doubt, better drivers, he adds.

But they tend to be more guilty of cellphone use and harsh braking. Men tend to be more guilty when it comes to taking corners quickly and speeding.

We took the challenge

It took me exactly one trip to change my driving habits. After my first trip using the app, I was surprised to learn I braked harshly, accelerated harshly and took corners harshly.

My starting score was 62 and despite getting mostly green stars on subsequent trips, the needle stood unflinchingly at 62 for at least a day.

Since then, I have been scoring somewhere between 85 and 89 – my current score is 88. This places me in the top 25% of female drivers, Gauteng motorists and drivers in South Africa who are using the app.

The app can’t be more specific than that and it’s fine with me – I would love to see a score of more than 90, but life is just too short to drive any slower.

In addition, the app is not really providing me with suggestions on how I can improve – just one harsh brake or a small spurt of speeding here or there tend to keep the score in check, so the ability to significantly change one’s driving beyond a certain point seems to be minimal.

By far the most difficult thing to control was speed. While I kept to the speed limit most of the time, I often sensed some impatience from cars behind me.

According to the app, drivers like me are rewarded with between R300 and R650 every month. – Marcia Klein

Getting the Discovery Insure app took some time – no matter what I did, it just wouldn’t accept my ID number.

When I finally got it started, the app only confirmed what I already knew: I am a great driver, only prone to exceeding the speed limit here and there.

I braked harshly during only one trip. There was a broken-down taxi smack in the middle of the road without any red triangles warning motorists about it.

Acceleration: smooth. Cornering: smooth. Phone motion: none.

It was very hard not to feel smug.

My total driving score was 96.

My only problem with the app is that it does not start up as soon as you turn on the engine.

Stealing sidelong glances at the phone on the passenger seat showed that it usually starts recording the drive midway during a trip. On one occasion, it started recording when I was opening the gate to my complex.

Perhaps it needs a button you can press when starting and ending a trip. Otherwise, it’s a great app.

– Moyagabo Maake

A different side of me emerges when I get behind the steering wheel. I become impatient (because I don’t understand why people drive at 60km/h) and angry and am probably the type of driver who says rude things about other motorists under my breath.

But I still consider myself a good driver.

When I first used the Discovery Insure app, I didn’t take it seriously.

My first score was 73 and I was marked down for using my phone while driving.

I got cocky because I thought my score was so good and all I had to do was to stop using my phone.

I did and, to my surprise, my score dropped to 70 because the app had picked up some harsh braking and speeding.

So I decided to follow the speed limit (no matter how slow I thought it was) and my score went up to only 71. On the next trip, my score dropped to 70 again because of some harsh acceleration. I made a mental note to move off slower when the traffic lights turned green.

And this was my dance with the Discovery Insure app, always wanting to beat my previous score.

Things got worse when I went to the leaderboard and discovered my colleague had a much higher score than I had.

I couldn’t bear the smugness she might display, so I had to beat her. I’m still trying.

Mamello Masote

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