02 March 2017: The initiative planned by The Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) and the Department of Basic Education to include driving lessons into the high school curriculum is a good initiative that will improve road safety as future drivers will be skilled from a young age.
This is according to Dawie Loots, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MUA Insurance Acceptances, who says that one of the many benefits of this is that first-time drivers, who typically acquire their licenses while in metric, can be taught to adequately follow road rules properly. “When taking our alarming road accident statistics into consideration, it is clear that education of road safety is very important in South Africa.”
This initiative will go a long way towards making South African roads safer and can lead to a positive impact on motor insurance, such as reduced premiums, he says. “This could also mean that first-time drivers will not have to pay an increased premium as they won’t be considered to be a higher risk profile anymore.”
A lot of insurers not only consider the insurer’s age but also the age when the driver’s license was obtained when determining an insurance premium, he explains. “For example, a person can be 32 and only recently received their driver’s license, which means that they are a first time driver.”
It has, however, been argued that not many children have access to a vehicle after school and therefore these lessons will not be useful within the school curriculum. Loots says this is a narrow-minded opinion because of most people, at some stage in their life, are likely to come across a situation where having driving skills could be beneficial, even if it is not their own vehicle, such as a company car or a family member’s vehicle they may need to use.
First-time drivers usually pay a higher insurance premium because they are seen as a higher risk on the road due to their lack of driving experience, he says. “As a result, a lot of parents place their children under their own car insurance policy because they are first time drivers and by doing so they usually bypass the fact that they will have to pay a higher premium. If drivers learn how to drive at an early age it could eliminate the additional premiums usually charged for younger drivers, which translates into savings for parents as well,” says Loots.
Road safety awareness is extremely important as we need better-skilled drivers on South African roads and by starting at a young age, better road users will be produced at school which will result in fewer accidents on our roads. “By introducing driving as part of a school subject, we can reduce the number of accidents that young drivers are involved in and therefore also insurance claim payouts. This initiative can go far in tackling the high accident rates in South Africa,” concludes Loots.