Simulation driving company SimDrive insists that there is a serious need to change the way novice drivers are educated and trained as one can’t just change the mindset of an entire generation overnight. Not only are lives at stake, but the South African Insurance Association says we have a situation in this country where only 65% of the 10 million motorists on the road are insured. In other words, two out of three cars involved in a collision will not be insured. Road accidents cost the South African economy as much as R300 billion per year. The cost of vehicle insurance for people under 25 is considerably higher, resulting in the need for insurance companies like Hollard Insurance to package specific plans for under 25s as they are such a high risk group. Young male drivers are considered the highest risk.

The death rate of young South African drivers is at least five times higher than that of older people. This is a tough dose of reality to face, especially since many young people dream of being able to drive as well as drink legally. When those car keys are handed over and the bags are packed for that alluring independence which comes with being away from home, the sense of freedom can be quite intoxicating but the loss of a friend due to drunk driving is a memory nobody needs or wants.

The legal alcohol limit when driving is 0.05g per 100ml of blood and trials on students show that both male and female students exceeded this limit after two beers, with factors such as food, medication and the water content in your organs determining your alcohol uptake.

There are a number of plans that can be made to ensure no one drives while drunk. Take turns among friends to be the designated driver. Set up a buddy system and look out for each other.

If nobody wants to be considered a party pooper and be the designated driver, there are other options available to you. These options include downloading the Uber app on your smartphone. The Uber service is a wonderful alternative to the traditional taxi option. The app allows you to book a cab and track where it is until it gets to you. The beauty of it is that when you open the app your credit card details are entered so no cash needs to change hands. From a safety point of view, drivers are thoroughly screened and constantly monitored. There are also other take-me-home services such as Smart Guyz (0861 SMART/0861 762 786) and Road Trip (087 943 8671) that will get both you and your own car home, should this be necessary. If you are fortunate enough to be a Discovery member you can get as much as 25% off the standard fee of all three services. Other good options are Cabs For Women, who employ female drivers only (0861 777 778), and Buddy’s Designated Drivers (0861 283 397). The cost of using these services will far outweigh the cost of the loss of a vehicle or worse, a life.

Use seatbelts, as they reduce the chances of death or serious injury by up to 75% according to the Automobile Association of SA and a Bridgestone backed Committee for Active Road Safety (CARS). Frightening statistics show that only 64% of drivers buckle up. Remember that speed limits are applied for a reason. Even impaired drivers can avoid serious injury at lower speeds as proven in France after speed limits were rigorously enforced. For added peace of mind, consider becoming an AA member (081 000 234) because from as little as R41.50 a month there are benefits ranging from roadside assistance to towing and locksmith services.

It’s time to start contributing towards positive statistics. Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. Be a confident driver but not an arrogant driver. Enjoy your newfound freedom but don’t abuse it. Make good memories. Party hard. Study even harder. Be kind to yourself and buckle up.


Illustration: Brandon Dlamini

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