Getting distracted, alcohol consumption and reckless driving are the main causes of road accidents.

According to the International Transport Forum's (ITF) Road Safety Annual Report, South Africa has one of the highest road crash rates in the world.

Approximately  25% of those crashes are caused by using mobile phones while driving.

Data collected through the Discovery Insure Driver Challenge app shows that using a cell phone behind the wheel can reduce your concentration by up to 37%. Reading and replying to a text message takes an average of 52 seconds. This might seem harmless, but at 60km/h, it’s equivalent to driving “blind” for 1km, making the driver four times more likely to have an accident.

According to Arrive Alive, the road safety information portal, distracted driving is a broad term that includes a wide variety of driving behaviours. Apart from taking your eyes off the road because you’re texting or trying to answer your phone, other common distractions include eating or drinking, or adjusting the channel on your radio. You can also be distracted by a passenger or something happening on the roadside.

Some studies conducted by the UK Transport Research Laboratory suggest that texting while driving is riskier than driving after consuming the legally allowed amount of alcohol.


This is because your reaction time and vehicle control are impaired when operating a phone through a combination of three factors: 

  • You take your hand off the wheel to use the phone.
  • Your eyes are off the road while reading small text on the screen.
  • Thinking about how to write your message takes your mind off driving. 

Arrive Alive refers to an American study of light vehicles that showed the risk of a crash or near-crash was 2.8 times higher when dialling, 1.3 times higher when talking or listening, and 1.4 times higher when reaching for an object compared to non-distracted driving.

The message is clear: “While you might think you’re a great driver, most vehicle accidents are caused by human error,” says Lucas Bezuidenhout, ER24 Bloemfontein Branch Manager. “It only takes a split second for an accident to happen, causing major damage to the vehicles involved, possible serious injury and even death. If all motorists adhered to the rules, put down their phones and abstained from alcohol, it would lead to safer roads.”