The road to a healthier South Africa

Over the past five years, there has been a significant international focus on ways to get people to live healthier and to exhibit better driving habits. While there are many of these success stories in South Africa, Discovery reports that South Africa is behind the curve when it comes to their health and their driving habits.

We are getting lazier

It is important to point out that the results released by Discovery in The Road To A Healthier South Africa report are the results of information gathered from Discovery Vitality members. Therefore, this information may not be true for the whole population.

Speaking at the launch of the 2018 version of the report, Doctor Craig Nossel – Head of Vitality Wellness – pointed out that one in every fourth South African are not exercising at all.

“South Africa is one of the worst countries in the world when it comes to physical activity. Almost half of the South African population live sedentary lifestyles, this is more than double the global average of 23%,” said Dr Nossel.

He added that there is a significant financial impact associated with this. “The global financial impact of premature deaths due to chronic diseases of lifestyle is R54 million. We need to change this, and we need to change it soon,” said Dr Nossel.

Official health rankings

According to the report, Cape Town leads the way when it comes to physical activity. Johannesburg and Pretoria come in second and third respectively. The worst city when it comes to physical activity is Bloemfontein.

“Physical activity is made up of various components of exercise which includes gym workouts, tracked steps and a number of other outdoor activities. It is interesting to note that Cape Town leads the way when it comes to gym workouts (17,1 million gym workouts a year) as well as the highest number of outdoor activities (just over 1 million),” said Dr Nossel.

Vehicular nightmares

When it comes to driving behaviour, it is no secret that South Africa ranks low when compared to international standards.

Recent statistics show that there are about 14 000 deaths on South African roads every year. The majority of this is caused by poor driving behaviour, and Dr Nossel adds that 6% of these accidents are due to the state of the cars on the road.

The Discovery report points out that Cape Town is in poll position when it comes to the best driving city in South Africa. Port Elizabeth came in second place with Bloemfontein taking third. Johannesburg and Pretoria came in fourth and fifth place with Durban in last place.

Let’s refine this data. In terms of harsh acceleration, breaking and cornering, the best performing city according to the Discovery report was Bloemfontein. Port Elizabeth came in second place while Pretoria came third. Johannesburg fared miserably and came in only one place above Durban who finished last.

When it comes to the use of cellular phones while driving, Cape Town fared the best which means that they use their cellular phones the least while driving. Durban finally redeemed itself by coming in second while Johannesburg came third.

“The worst city when it comes to using their cellular phones while driving is Bloemfontein who are 11% more distracted than Cape Town,” said Dr Nossel.

The fast and the furious

Speeding is a major issue in South Africa and is a major focal point of Discovery Vitality Drive.

According to the Discovery report, Cape Town drivers speed the least with Johannesburg in second place and Port Elizabeth in third. Pretoria, Durban and Bloemfontein are the worst performing cities when it comes to speed. “Our statistics show that Bloemfontein drivers travel 30% faster than Cape Town drivers,” said Dr Nossel.

When it comes to night driving, Johannesburg finally manages to take first position, meaning that they travel mostly during the day. Durban comes in second with Pretoria in third position. According to the Discovery results, Cape Town prefers to drive at night with Bloemfontein drivers once again in last position.

What impact do these stats have?  

Behavioural economics is a field that studies human behaviour and what drives us to make specific decisions. This is a growing field of study within the insurance industry as insurers try to get a better insight into their clients and why they act in certain ways.

“We gather our statistics because we want to give our clients food for thought. Loss aversion is something that drives humans every day. If they have something, they don’t want to lose it. This should make them predictively rational. If an insurer gives their client a specific number of driving points at the beginning of the month, but then tell their clients that they will lose them if they drive badly, clients should theoretically drive within certain parameters in order to retain their points,” said Dr Nossel.

He added that technology is completely changing the game when it comes to understanding people’s driving behaviour.

Until next time, take care.


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