[Discovery research study finds  individuals are over optimistic about their health and driving ability]

Over the past year, Discovery conducted several surveys among South African employees and its Discovery Insure members to determine how they rated their state of health and their driving abilities. The results of these surveys show that people’s perceptions of themselves and their abilities do not always correspond with the reality, and are usually over optimistic.

Dr Craig Nossel, Head of Discovery Vitality Wellness, says the results of the first Discovery Healthy Company Index (HCI), which were released last year, are interesting. “Statistics show that South African employees are not as healthy as they perceive themselves to be, indicating that a distortion exists between perception and reality,” he says.

Discovery Insure Survey 

The survey results indicated that 67percent of all employees who participated in the HCI considered themselves to be healthy when they actually had four or more risk factors affecting their overall health and wellbeing. Other interesting statistics revealed that:

• 21 percent were already living with a chronic lifestyle disease such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure
• 21percent were smokers
• 61 percent were overweight or obese
• 78 percent were not getting enough exercise
• 80 percent were not eating enough fruit and vegetables
• 67 percent were stressed
• 61 percent were not doing regular health checks
• 72 percent of all respondents had a *Vitality Age that was on average 3.5 years above their actual age.

81% of Discovery Insure vehicle insurance clients think they are excellent drivers

Similar perception results were found among Discovery Insure drivers when over 114 million kilometres of driver data generated by the **DQ-Track programme was analysed. Anton Ossip, Discovery Insure CEO says, “out of the group who considered themselves to be excellent drivers, our data shows that a very small percentage of these drivers are actually excellent drivers.”

The survey showed that 10 percent are excellent drivers, 58 percent moderate, and 32 percent poor drivers. Ossip says that the survey also found that young adult drivers (between the ages of 18 and 25) are over optimistic about their driving abilities, with nine in 10 young adults believing they are above average or excellent drivers. In a recent survey done by Discovery Insure we found that over 75 percent of young adults deaths are caused by motor vehicle accidents. The young adults survey also showed that:

• Over 90 percent of young adult drivers are most likely to engage in risky driving behaviour
• The top three risky behaviours are peer-influenced behaviour, late night driving (after 11pm) and speeding
• 60 percent of motor vehicle accidents in the country are preventable as they occur before some form of irresponsible or risky driving behaviour.

This propensity for over optimism is not unique to South Africans. Research completed in the US showed that close to 20 percent of the population believed that they belong to richest 1 percent of the population and 80 percent of students believed that they are in the top 50 percent of their class.

Car Insurance Telematics and Changing Driver Behaviour

It’s time to change behaviours

People will not change their behaviour for the better if they do not think it is a problem, and changing behaviour is difficult when people have unrealistic perceptions about their actual health and driving behaviour.

“Changing behaviour requires more than information and prescription; it requires meaningful environmental or structural changes,” says Nossel. “People, with the help of regular feedback, will usually change their behaviour when they realise how their choices negatively affect their quality of life.”

This applies to their driving abilities as well. The young adult driver research, Ossip says, shows that “young adults are more receptive to having telematics technology installed in their cars than their parents are, and 80 percent of young drivers want feedback on all aspects of their own driving behaviour.”

Discovery addresses this behavioural perception distortion through behavioural economics application that helps people make positive behaviour changes through rewards when they make healthier lifestyle and better driving choices based on regular feedback through doing various health checks, and through DQ-Track feedback. Discovery, says Nossel, “is committed to ensuring a healthier, more productive society, and that South African roads are safer for all to use.”

* The Vitality Age is an indicator of good or poor lifestyle, with a Vitality Age lower than your actual age indicting a good, healthy lifestyle.

**The DQ-Track programme is a scientifically and actuarially robust measure of good driving that looks at driver performance, knowledge and awareness and vehicle condition and roadworthiness.

For more on vehicle and insurance telematics also view:

What is Insurance Telematics and how will it impact on car insurance?

Vehicle Insurance Telematics

Driver Intelligence to be measured by Discovery with Discovery Insure

Outsurance activates technology to reward safe driving behaviour

Pay As You Drive and Car Insurance

Vehicle Telematics, Accident Investigation and Fleet Management

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6 thoughts on “South Africans over optimistic about their health and the safety of their driving

  1. Gary

    I learned to Drive, and obtained my Licenses in South Africa in 1982. I moved to the UK in 1990, and lived there until I returned to RSA in 2012. I always wear a seat-belt, I never exceed the speed limit, I always stop fully at stop signs, and I slow down on approach to “old” green lights, and I never edge forward into a junction while a light is still red. I keep left and pass right on Freeways. I never “undertake” (i.e. pass on the left),I observe a safe following distance based on road and weather conditions, I am courteous to other drivers who I share the road with, …These are the most basic rules of the road…the rules I was taught when I was taught how to drive, in South Africa, in the early 1980’s. The net result, I have never been involved in an accident or collision of any sort in all of my 22 years of Driving.
    I am honestly appalled by the standard of driving in general on the roads in South Africa today, how did it degenerate into such blatant contempt for the highway code and other drivers. The thing that amazes me most is everyone complains about taxi’s, but on the whole no-one behaves any better or worse than taxi’s anyway. Over optimistic about the quality of their own driving? that’s a very polite way of saying that South African drivers largely have little or no regard for the rules of the road, or other road users. Even the police are not much better, I have often seen them routinely ignore even the most basic rules for no reason at all, just like everyone else…

  2. Rob Schofield

    In South Africa very few people only stop at stop streets. Most feel it is their right to do as they please. I came thru a stop street 2 months ago on my bicycle MTB and i watch to see if it was clare to good and as i was going thruogh a youn lady I observed further back did not even bother to stop. I was at the point of getting out of the stop street when I noticed that she had not stop and drove straight into me. When I approached her and asked why didnt you stop. Her answer to thath was I didnt see you? She was still busy texting on her cell phone, without a problem in her life. I had R6200,00 rands worth of damage to my bike. The steering & shock ansorber was bent back.
    This whole issue did not phase her in the least. I live in Richards Bay & was 9;30 in a quite suburb. She was the only car in the whole area at the time?. She did’nt both to get out the vehicle at all. I spoke to the Police about it and there response was well we have tried to bring culprit to address their misdemeanour, but we have problems bringing them to boot. Nobody seems to stops anymore apart from my wife & myself. I’m worried this is only going to get worse over time. We must have the highest death toll on roads in the world?

  3. Gary

    And the apathy demonstrated by not bothering to even moderate my above comment, mirrors the general inability of south Africans to accept constructive criticism of any sort….

  4. I agree 100% with the Discovery survey. The amount of drivers I see on a daily basis texting or talking on their cell phones is very worrying. Driving in Johannesburg is stressful enough – at any given time in the Fourways area there are at least 2-3 traffic lights out of order – also South African drivers (the majority in Jozi anyhow) don’t understand how traffic islands work. I’ve had some graphic signs from ignorant drivers……. Granted, the taxi drivers are horrific and are to be avoided – they have the unenviable reputation of breaking every rule in the book on every trip they ever make. Hooting at them and gesticulating are to be avoided at all costs. As much as we all love summer in SA, the rains bring potholes that develop into craters because our useless Joburg Metro can’t keep up with the repairs. It’s never dull living in a sunny, 3rd world country

  5. Angelo

    There are plenty of reasons as to why South Africans get into so many accidents, and I believe the main reason for that is because of a truly corrupt Police Force/Traffic Department. Last week I was in a car accident, a head on collision with a car which drove practically into my lane. Upon the cops arrival, they were extremely unprofessional about everything… Not speaking in English, refusing to take my statement, refusing to do a breathalyser test on the other driver, harassment and threatening to arrest me for no apparent cause. At the scene, the driver of the other vehicle and the cop walked down the street around the corner, where I believe bribery took place. Corrupt Cops, the reason why people simply are not afraid to drink and drive, speed, and ultimately cause accidents.

  6. Hank


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