In April, Matrix released the statistics around distracted driving in South Africa. The survey was launched earlier this year and was completed by over 400 respondents and set out to gather information about the most common poor driving behaviours amongst South African motorists. The results have highlighted some worrying statistics and insights.

Distracted driving is a large concern globally, with the advent of instant access to technology while on the go. If we look at the number of accidents on South African roads daily and specifically over busy holiday periods – such as the Easter one approaching us – it is clear that there is a much larger problem here.

Matrix reveals South African distracted driving statistics

One of the most prominent insights was that over 82% of respondents indicated that they have received up to 2 traffic fines in the last 6 months, with 53% of these issued for speeding, skipping a traffic light or talking on the phone. However, interestingly, 47% of motorists indicated that they rarely drive over the speed limit – only doing so in the event of an emergency – while 27% indicated that they drive over the speed limit at least 80% of the time.

This is indicative that while speeding is still a profound concern, there is more to worry about than merely speeding. Other distractions that respondents admitted to doing, such as changing the radio station or searching for one (52%), eating and drinking (32%), and most importantly, texting/calling or checking social media while driving (22%), are playing a fundamental role in the safety of all road users – drivers, cyclists and pedestrians – especially where these are undertaken at least once a day by 25% of respondents.

Other prominent distracted driving acts that motorists undertook includes applying make-up, doing hair and checking GPS/navigation devices.

When asking respondents whether they braked harshly often and, if so, why – it was identified that 70% of drivers stopped suddenly due to the car in front of them stopping, where 25% was a result of distracted or reckless driving. However, what is very interesting to note is that driving style is very dependent on the mood and temperament of each driver. When asked what type of driver they consider themselves to be, 44% of motorists indicate that they drive according to their mood – if they are angry, they will be more aggressive and possibly drive over the speed limit – if calm, they will remain within the speed limit and drive more carefully.

Driving style is something that each driver should be acutely aware of, if we are to reduce bad driving habits and improve road safety. With the help of innovative technology, like vehicle tracking apps, drivers can actively track and monitor their driving style which could, in turn, reduce not only maintenance on their vehicle and save them on fuel, but it could also result in reduced insurance premiums and – most importantly – in becoming an advocate for safe driving and road usage.

The survey further indicated that most consumers (75%) know they can use their tracking device to track and monitor such behaviour and save on premiums (80% of consumers understand this).

It is certainly comforting that 80% of consumers indicated that they would monitor their driving style with a tracking device if they had one. The challenge today however, is encouraging people to take this seriously – to understand the impact of both bad and distracted driving, and to drive positive change within the road safety space.

As we head towards the long weekend, Matrix would like to encourage drivers to stay focused on the road, let your passengers play DJ, take regular breaks to fight fatigue, let your partner check your messages or Google the closest B&B and make sure that you are abiding by the rules of the road. Check your driving statistics via your Matrix tracking app to keep your driving in check and contribute to safer roads.