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Fuel prices set to drop in December, but changing your driving patterns will save you more at the pump

Fuel prices set to drop in December, but changing your driving patterns will save you more at the pump
Illustrative image: (Photos: Wikimedia | Rawpixel)

The 2023 Drive Trends Report from Discovery Insure shines a light on bad driving behaviour – showing that if you’re a male aged 30 to 35 and don’t live in the Western Cape, you’re more likely to speed. And Limpopo’s drivers are the most fuel efficient.

Discovery Insure’s latest Drive Trends Report reveals that steep fuel price increases have had the knock-on effect of drivers changing their driving patterns.

The Drive Trends Report, released on Thursday, 30 November 2023, analyses the driving behaviour of more than 240,000 drivers using Discovery Insure’s Vitality Drive programme. The data, gathered between January and October 2023, resoundingly confirm that clients’ purchasing behaviour changes when the fuel price changes, such as choosing to drive to work one less day per week.

The Automobile Association (AA), meanwhile, anticipates that drivers will see a welcome drop in fuel prices this December. Fuel prices across the board are projected to decrease significantly next month, according to unaudited mid-month data from the Central Energy Fund (CEF). The AA says the decrease will bring relief to struggling consumers, especially ahead of the end of the year, and the expected increase in traffic on major holiday routes.

Based on the current data from the CEF, consumers can expect a decrease of around R1.06/litre for ULP 95, R1.05/litre for ULP 93 and a big drop of about R2.10/litre for diesel.

“The current data show that international product prices have eased since the beginning of the month and are contributing to the bulk of the expected decreases. The stronger value of the rand against the US dollar is also playing its part and is combining with the more stable oil prices to ensure South Africans can look forward to lower fuel prices in December,” the AA says.

Based on these numbers, ULP 95 inland could drop to around R22.17/litre and R22.05 at the coast, marking the lowest pricing for this fuel since February. The diesel price is expected to drop to about R22.15/litre, higher than its August pricing of R20.21/litre, but cheaper than its September pricing of R23.05/litre.

Limpopo drivers are most fuel efficient

Robert Attwell, chief executive at Discovery Insure, says the average fuel consumption of clients in Gauteng, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape is nearly 1 litre per 100km more than that of clients in the other provinces – largely because of higher traffic volumes.

When it comes to fuel efficiency, or how much fuel is consumed per kilometre driven, Limpopo drivers perform the best, with an average fuel consumption of 6 litres per 100km.

Discovery Insure’s Vitality Drive programme uses telematics to measure driver behaviour, and clients earn points based on how well they drive. The more points a client earns, the higher their Vitality Drive status and the more rewards and benefits they get. Clients start each day with 60 points, and points are deducted throughout the day for poor driving behaviour such accelerating, braking and cornering harshly, as well as cellphone use and speeding.

The worst driving behaviour

Of these driving behaviours, the Drive Trends Report reveals that speeding is the worst driving behaviour among clients, as driving too fast accounts for the most lost points compared with other poor driving behaviours. Drivers who claimed against their policies lost as much as 83% more points from speeding than those who didn’t claim. The data also showed that people speed 50% more on weekends compared with weekdays, suggesting that less traffic could contribute to this behaviour. People aged between 30 and 35 speed the most.

“This data is powerful because it tells a story. Speeding remains stubbornly high. It is concerning to see from the data that many South Africans, particularly those in their early to mid-thirties, still tend to drive too fast on our roads,” Attwell says.

Alongside the fuel price and its financial constraints implications, the report also confirms something else many of us already know: Western Cape drivers and women, nationally, speed the least. “In fact, women lose 30% less points for speeding compared with men,” Attwell says.

Leaving home a little later could pay off

The Drive Trends Report shows that on weekdays, the peak driving time in the morning is 6.45. However, South Africans could spend 14% less time on the road by leaving the house between 6am and 7am, and 11% if they left after 8am. DM


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