Illustration: Colin Daniel

There’s no excuse for driving under the influence of alcohol, especially when your insurer offers you free or discounted rates for a chauffeur to drive you and your car home when you can’t.

If you have car insurance, check if your insurer offers this benefit.

OUTsurance, Discovery Insure and now Santam offer policyholders the benefit of such a service, in an attempt to encourage more responsible driver behaviour and reduce the number of fatalities on our roads.

More than 1 400 people were killed in road accidents last festive season – between December 1 last year and January 11 – according to Arrive Alive. That’s 35 fatalities a day, on average.

Most accidents occurred between 7pm and 11pm and were the result of speeding, reckless driving and the abuse of alcohol by drivers and pedestrians.

Last month Santam, South Africa’s largest short-term insurance company, introduced Home Drive Assis-tance at no additional cost to private policyholders.

Home Drive Assistance is available to Santam policyholders in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Nel-spruit, Polokwane, Durban, East London, George, Cape Town and Bloemfontein, and is limited to six “incidents” or call-outs a year.

In association with Europ Assistance South Africa, the chauffeur service operates within a 50-kilometre radius of the city centres listed. If you need to be transported beyond the 50km range, you will be liable for a fee of R9 a kilometre, which is payable directly to Europ Assistance.

Although the service is available to the policyholder only, you can take up to five passengers along with you at no additional cost.

Donald Kau, the head of corporate affairs at Santam, says your vehicle doesn’t have to be insured by Santam; you merely have to have a private policy with Santam.

Terms and conditions apply, one of them being that you book through Europ Assistance between 8am and 2am, at least 45 minutes in advance. Cancellation and rescheduling fees apply.

For more information, speak to your broker or call Santam on 0860 505 911.

[email protected] has been available to OUTsurance policyholders since 2008. The service, in association with Good Fellas, costs policyholders a subscription fee of R20 a month – a 70-percent discount on Good Fellas’ Smartchoice package, which costs R91.90 a month for non-OUTsurance members. Call-outs are charged at the Smartchoice rate of R12 a kilometre.

[email protected] is available only to policyholders in and around Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, George and Bloemfontein.

Terms and conditions apply, such as a minimum trip charge of R180 – the equivalent of 15km – for trips of less than 15km. All trip charges are debited to your bank account or charged to your credit card by Good Fellas at the end of the month. When you subscribe to the service, you give Good Fellas authorisation for one of these methods.

For more information, call OUTsurance on 0860 060 000.

Discovery Insure offers the NightDriver benefit to policyholders with Vitalitydrive, which is Discovery Insure’s incentive programme.

NightDriver is offered in association with RoadTrip and SmartGuyz. RoadTrip operates in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban, and SmartGuyz operates in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban only.

Being a Vitalitydrive member entitles you to a discount of between 10 and 25 percent on the monthly subscription fees charged by RoadTrip and SmartGuyz. But the discount is dependent on your status when you are billed.

If your Vitalitydrive status is at “base” level, you get a 10-percent discount, but if it’s “advanced”, you get a 25-percent discount. The discount applies to membership fees only and not to the rate per kilometre charged by the service provider.

Membership fees range from R87 to R699 a month with RoadTrip and from R77 to R2 640 a month with SmartGuyz.

Membership fees give the member a specified number of pre-paid kilometres a month at a specified rate. For example, the top-of-the-range platinum package at SmartGuyz costs R2 640 a month and gives you 400km (the rate per kilometre being R6.60) of pre-paid chauffeur services. The silver package at SmartGuyz costs R440 a month and buys you 50 pre-paid kilometres. The rate per kilometre is R8.80.

Terms and conditions apply to both. For example, you lose the kilometres that you don’t use.

SmartGuyz offers a non-subscription service – in other words, no monthly fee is levied – but a flat fee of R100 applies. The first 10km are included in the fee and thereafter normal per-kilometre tariffs apply. To use this benefit, simply call SmartGuyz and inform them that you’re a Vitalitydrive member.

For more information about NightDriver, speak to your broker or send an email to [email protected]

Gary Ronald, the head of public affairs at the Automobile Association, says the need for chauffeur services is high, but the demand is not yet high enough.

“If the risk of detection [by law enforcement agencies] was higher, more people would use these services. We would like to see it become the norm and available outside of the big cities as well,” Ronald says.



From a financial perspective, the penalties for driving over the blood alcohol limit are potentially devastating.

You will have to shell out for a fine of up to R180 000 or serve nine months in prison, which would cost you in loss of earnings.

If you’re involved in an accident, you will have to pay to repair your car and any others that were damaged – because your insurer won’t. And you will acquire a criminal record, which could have major implications for your career and earnings potential, depending on your profession.

The blood alcohol limit in South Africa is 0.05g per 100ml of blood. This means that if you weigh 70 kilograms, you have reached the limit after drinking:

* Two glasses of wine;

* Two tots of hard liquor; or

* Two cans of beer.

Even one drink is enough to impair your driving.

Anton Ossip, the chief executive officer of Discovery Insure, says South Africa ranks as one of the most dangerous places in the world to drive, primarily due to driver behaviour and attitudes.

“Driver behaviour, especially when combined with poor driving choices and habits, is a major contributor to road accidents and deaths, particularly during the festive season,” he says.

Ossip says that if nothing is done to reduce the road accident rate and death toll, within a few years road accidents will be one of the leading causes of premature deaths globally. This will have even more of an impact on individual lives, families and the world economy.

Motor vehicle accidents account for 75 percent of deaths of young adults, Ossip says.

Discovery Insure has 25 852 active drivers and 1 555 of them are younger than 26.

Ossip says Discovery Insure has found that nine in 10 young adults rate themselves as above-average or excellent drivers. Such over-confidence contributes to the high accident rate.

“The reality is that one out of every three young adults have been in an accident, and over 90 percent of young drivers are likely to engage in risky driving behaviour,” he says.

Risky behaviour includes late-night driving and speeding, he says.

According to statistics from Discovery Insure, one out of every five motor vehicles in South Africa is not roadworthy, and three out of five accidents are preventable.

Ossip urges motorists to comply with the rules of the road, refrain from drinking and driving, ensure your vehicle is roadworthy, maintain a safe following distance, drive with your lights on even during the day, avoid driving at night and be alert to road and weather conditions.