Shocking road stats over the holidays

By Drum Digital
07 December 2015

The festive season is often a time of shocking statistics when it comes to the high number of road crashes – due to the abuse of alcohol in South Africa.

By Ayanda Sitole

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 20 000 and 25 000 people die every year as a result of drunken driving in on our roads, while for others it could be a smashed car and endless repairs and insurance red tape.

Willem Smith, managing director of Personal Lines at Hollard Insurance, says people are ignoring the dangers of driving under the influence and might not always be aware of the financial losses they might incur.

“If you feel that you’ve had too much to drink or have had more than one glass of wine or two beers, don’t drive. Instead, get a friend or spouse to drive or take a taxi,” he advises.

Willem says there are several ways in which your car insurance can be affected:

* Your claim might not get paid out because drinking under the influence is illegal and your insurance company has the right to refuse to pay out. The same can be said for the Road Accident Fund, which can also refuse to pay out claims for a drunken-driving crash.

* You might never be insured again. If you’re convicted of drunken driving, your insurance company could decide that you’re a high-risk individual and should your driver's licence be suspended, you won’t be able to get car insurance.

* Your premiums could go up. If your insurance company does decide to pay out your claim, it’s likely that your monthly premium will increase fairly significantly. This is because you’re now considered a high-risk driver.

* Insurance companies could exclude liability. If the driver is found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs or if their blood alcohol level is found to be over the legal limit (0,05 g per 100 ml), then liability could be excluded. If the driver refuses to submit to any test, including a breathalyser test, to determine the level of alcohol or drugs in his/her blood when requested to do so by the authorities, the insurance company might also not pay out.

Willem says South African drivers must take a few statistics into consideration – such as that six out of 10 drivers who die in crashes have dangerously high alcohol levels in their blood.

Furthermore, 3 000 adult pedestrians are killed in motor crashes annually and 70 % of them are drunk when killed.

“When you’re on the road at night, one out of every seven drivers sharing the road with you is drunk. When you have a single drink, your chance of causing a crash doubles,” Willem says.

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