Road safety initiatives are being implemented by the South African Insurance Association (SAIA) in an attempt to curb the high accident rate in South Africa and to thereby ensure that motor insurance remains affordable. “Motor insurance, our largest class of business is under considerable pressure with around 70% of insurance claims being road accident related and alcohol consumption is a factor in many of these instances,” says SAIA spokesperson.
One of the SAIA’s most recent initiatives to curtail alcohol related road accidents, on behalf of its members in the short-term insurance industry, is the creation of a second Alcohol Testing blood alcohol testing centre in partnership with Business Against Crime South Africa and the Johannesburg Metro Police Department.
“The new breathalyzer technology that is used in this centre now enables the police to obtain a breath alcohol sample that can be used as evidence of alcohol consumption in a court. In the past, a blood alcohol sample had to be taken,” says Wayne Minnaar, spokesperson for the South African Police Services.
“In addition to alcohol, with the vehicle population estimated at over 9.5 million, traffic density on South African roads has also increased the frequency of vehicle accidents. This has not only had an effect on the short-term insurance industry, but in turn, has cost our economy enormous amounts of money,” says SAIA's spokesperson.
“The short-term insurance industry has also experienced a continued increase in the average cost of repairs and this has been associated with the introduction of a variety of imported vehicles into the market. In addition, the reduction in new vehicle sales adds even more pressure to motor accounts. While sophisticated underwriting tools have been implemented by insurers in an attempt to effectively manage costs, some external factors, such as the roadworthiness of vehicles, have compounded this predicament,” says SAIA's spokesperson.
Road safety is an international challenge. In the United Nations General Assembly report titled 2003 Road Traffic Injuries and their Impact on Societies, it is stated that “Road traffic injuries are a global problem affecting all sectors of society. To date, road safety has received insufficient attention at the international and national levels. This has resulted in part from a lack of political responsibility and multidisciplinary collaboration needed to tackle it effectively.”
Arrive Alive reports that every day in South Africa an average of 36 lives are lost on our roads. Of these, 15 are pedestrians and 3 are killed in taxi-related incidents.
“SAIA believes that the road safety statistics are appalling and that it is time that government and private industry get together to develop a national initiative to stop this carnage on our roads. South Africa can not afford to continue with the current appalling losses when something can be done to reduce the present unacceptable statistics and to keep motor insurance affordable,” says SAIA spokesperson.