Drinking, driving, insurance and you

Government is considering a zero-tolerance approach towards motorists who drink before they drive and this has some people up in arms. But if it means lower insurance premiums for all motorists, wouldn’t South Africans be happy to comply?

John Motsatsing, chief director of road transport regulation at the Department of Transport, has confirmed that government is drafting a document proposing a zero alcohol limit for drivers. The initiative aims to improve safety on the roads — during the Easter holidays alone, more than 200 people died on our roads.

The Czech Republic and Hungary have adopted zero tolerance towards alcohol and motoring and although states in Australia set their own laws they all agree on a zero-alcohol limit for drivers with learners or probationary licences.

A combination of speed and driver fatigue is bad enough, but throw alcohol into the mix and it’s a deadly recipe. Drunk drivers don’t obey the rules of the road, they don’t have a realistic grasp of danger and they take risks — they speed, don’t wear their seatbelts, jump red traffic lights. Sober drivers are less inclined to speed and are also more alert to potential danger.

Helen Szemerei, CEO of IntegriSure, makes the vital point that anything that reduces accidents will help consumers. Fewer accidents means fewer claims, which means there will be more funds in a collective insurance pool, which can be used to stabilise premiums and even prevent increases.

That would be very good news for the average, law-abiding driver.

“It’s possible that both insurance premiums and excesses loaded on to policies may be reduced,” says Szemerei.

Reducing the financial burden on consumers
It is, of course, more costly to replace a vehicle than repair minor damages and drunk-driving accidents tend to be severe, with cars often written off completely. The financial burden to the insurer is higher, which pushes up the overall cost of premiums.

Most, if not all, insurance contracts don’t pay out on a claim if it’s found that the driver was under the influence of alcohol. But motorists need to be aware that insurers can decline to offer future cover, which means a lot of drivers could be uninsurable — or they’ll have to pay a higher excess and premium in the future.

It’s likely that tipsy drivers don’t consider this when they hop into the car after a party — drinking and driving is tacitly accepted in South Africa and until mindsets change we’re more or less stuck with the dangerous and costly status quo. Ultimately, though, we’d all like to pay less insurance, so it’s a good idea to educate motorists with regard to the bigger picture.

“Drunk driving is not an accident. It is a choice” is the motto of South Africans Against Drunk Driving. If you would like to know more about this initiative, visit http://www.sadd.org.za. If you’d simply like a lift home in your own car after you’ve been indulging, take a look at a href=”https://www.gfellas.co.za” target=”_blank”>Good Fellas — the Smart Way Home. Sober Chauffeur also gets you home safely.

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Staff Reporter
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