HomeSmart EnergyStarting trips before 7am saves time, men are better at braking smoothly,...

Starting trips before 7am saves time, men are better at braking smoothly, and women stay within speed limits, says new driving trends data

New driving trends data released today reveals that people can save between 13% and 14% of their commuting time on their trips if they choose to start driving before 7am or after 8am. The data also highlights that men brake more smoothly and tend to use their cellphones less often than women when driving, while women are better at taking corners and staying within the speed limit.

Discovery Insure’s driving trends, released today, are an analysis of the driving behaviour of over 230,000 personal and commercial Discovery Insure Vitality Drive clients from between January 2019 and March 2022.

“Our data also confirms that people today are driving less frequently, compared to pre-pandemic driving levels,” says Precious Nduli, Head of Marketing and Technical Marketing at Discovery Insure.

It highlights that people currently embark on an average of 60 trips per month, which is 10 fewer trips per month than prior to 2020. This equates to 14% less trips per month since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, although this figure appears to be gradually increasing back to pre-COVID levels.

Friday is the most popular day to drive

People currently drive on 15 days in the month with an average distance of 12km per trip. Fridays are the most popular day to drive, and Sundays are the least popular. Interestingly, Discovery Insure’s Work From Home Index, which was released recently, revealed that Friday was the least popular day to go to work which means that people who are driving on Fridays are likely to be driving to places other than their place of work.

As for total road trips, the data shows that an average South African driver will, over their entire lifetime of driving, travel 13.3 times around the circumference of the Earth. If this driving was continuous, a driver would be traveling non-stop for 1.5 years in total – or spending the equivalent of 13,149 hours on the road.

Vitality Drive is a unique driver behaviour programme that rewards clients for driving well through a range of incentives, including offering clients the most competitive cash back on fuel spend in the market. Vitality Drive uses the latest vehicle telematics technology to collect real-time information about clients’ driving behaviour.

“Our Vitality Drive clients start each day with 25 points. Points are then deducted throughout the day for poor driving behaviours such as harsh acceleration, braking, cornering, cell phone use and speeding,” explains Nduli. “The programme employs the principle of loss aversion to encourage clients to drive well.”

Additional insights gleaned from Discovery Insure’s driving trends show that semigration (i.e., people relocating to a different town within the borders of the same country), specifically from Gauteng to the Western Cape was up 33% from 2020 to 2021.

“We measured semigration by looking at changes to our Discovery Insure clients’ place of residence,” adds Nduli. “One cannot help but wonder if the increased flexibility offered by remote and hybrid working models which developed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, is potentially the main reason for the notable increase in semigration.”

People drive faster in the mornings than in the afternoons

Nduli says that another insight revealed by the data was that people who start a trip between 3am and 5am spend more time on the road as these trips tend to be for longer distances. However, trips shorter than 20km tend to take longer per km driven than those trips where the average distance travelled is over 500km. These shorter trips possibly tend to be on urban roads with lower speed limits, greater traffic congestion and in areas with many traffic lights, leading to slower journeys overall.

Nduli adds that people drive 11% faster between 6am and 10am, compared to trips made between 4pm and 8pm, which may indicate that traffic congestion is worse in the afternoon than in the morning.

Vitality Drive for Business is Discovery Business Insurance’s driver behaviour programme that rewards businesses and their drivers for good driving behaviour. This group of clients also provided interesting insights into changing driving patterns. These clients, some of which include fleet businesses, individually typically drove the length of Africa 3.5 times each year. The study shows that fleet clients take 18% fewer trips than personal lines clients per week, but business clients drive almost five times further in distance than personal lines clients.

Discovery Insure’s Gold and Diamond drivers have fewer accidents

By measuring how clients drive, Discovery Insure is able to help clients to improve their driving, and the more they improve, the more points they earn and the higher their Vitality Drive status, ranging from Blue to Diamond. This leads to more rewards such as higher fuel cash back and discounts at partners, such as Tiger Wheel and Tyre.

Nduli adds that the driving trends data clearly indicates that Gold and Diamond Vitality Drive clients are safer drivers and have fewer accidents. Should an incident occur, these clients’ collisions are also less severe. This is supported by the data released this week, which found that Gold and Diamond Vitality Drive clients lose 10 times less points for speeding than the worst drivers. Further, the data shows that people who claim lose 53% more points for speeding than clients who have not claimed. People aged 30 – 35 were found to speed more than any other age group, including those aged 25 and under who are usually considered to be a high risk.

“It’s important that clients are given tools to understand and improve their driving behaviour because research shows that if all individuals in South Africa were on Gold or Diamond Vitality Drive status, we could achieve a reduction of up to 90% in the number and cost of accidents,” says Nduli.

Explaining the significance of these new driving trends, Nduli says that analysis of driving trends enables Discovery Insure to harness its personal and business insurance offerings to meet the changing needs of its large client base.

“We have seen many changes to the lifestyle and working patterns of our clients over the past few years. However, the importance of road safety remains central to our philosophy. It is encouraging to see that clients who engage with our Vitality Drive programme across our personal and commercial lines, have lower loss ratios, submit fewer claims, are better drivers, and are also benefiting from the savings that we can pass back to clients in the form of cash back,” Nduli concludes.