Road Safety: Cellphone Distractions Top List Of Risky Driving Behaviours

In the realm of South African road safety, cellphone distractions now reign as the foremost peril on the nation’s roads.


  • This revelation, unveiled by Discovery Insure through ground-breaking research, sheds light on the urgent need for enhanced awareness and intervention to mitigate this growing threat.
  • At the recent launch event of the UN Global Campaign for Road Safety in South Africa, held at Discovery’s Sandton office, the findings of Discovery Insure’s study took center stage.
  • The collaboration between the UN and JCDecaux aims to amplify life-saving initiatives on the road, underscoring the critical importance of addressing pressing road safety challenges.
  • Visit www.sandtontimes.co.za for more stories.


While environmental and vehicle-related factors undoubtedly contribute to road fatalities, the study underscores the pivotal role of human behaviour, with cellphone distractions emerging as the primary culprit. Startlingly, over 60% of motor vehicle fatalities can be attributed to a handful of behaviours, including drinking and driving, excessive speeding, aggressive driving, lack of vehicle care, and notably, cellphone usage while driving.


With access to a staggering 19 billion km of driving data and 500’000 daily trips, Discovery Insure possesses a unique vantage point to discern the factors influencing vehicle accident risks.

Discovery Insure’s investment in telematics has been instrumental in unlocking key insights that empower us to cultivate a culture of safe driving.

// Discovery Insure CEO, Robert Attwell


Addressing the audience, Discovery Insure CEO Robert Attwell highlighted the insurer’s commitment to enhancing road safety through data-driven insights. Image: Discovery Insure

The data revealed a sobering reality: cellphone usage poses a greater risk than speeding, significantly elevating the likelihood of accidents. Even a brief 20 seconds on the phone during each trip amplifies accident risk by over 60%. Alarmingly, Discovery Insure’s analysis found that clients who submitted accident claims were 52% more likely to have used their phones than to have exceeded the speed limit on the day of the accident.


Moreover, the study illuminated shifting trends in driving behaviour, with a notable increase in distracted driving accidents overshadowing a decline in night-time accidents. Driving at night, particularly between 10pm and 4am, amplifies the severity of accidents, underscoring the need for heightened vigilance during these hours.


Beyond individual behaviours, the state of South Africa’s road infrastructure emerges as a significant contributing factor to road fatalities and economic losses. Poor road conditions, accounting for over 22% of motor vehicle fatalities in 2022, exact a considerable toll on the nation’s GDP, highlighting the imperative for comprehensive interventions.


Interestingly, regional disparities in road safety outcomes underscore the nuanced nature of the challenge. While provinces like Limpopo boast commendable road infrastructure, persistently high rates of driving events leading to accidents underscore the critical role of behaviour modification in enhancing road safety.


As the UN Global Campaign for Road Safety gains momentum, the imperative for collective action to curb road fatalities becomes increasingly apparent. By leveraging data-driven insights and fostering strategic partnerships, those responsible can chart a path toward safer roads, ultimately saving lives.


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