JULY 2017


Jail time for drunk drivers


South Africa suffers 17 000 road deaths annually and the government is planning tougher measures for drunk driving. The SA traffic department says that it is at an advanced stage in discussions with the justice department to institute harsher punishments for motorists who drink and drive, including a mandatory 2-year jail sentence without bail. The aim is to reclassify drunken driving to a more severe Schedule 5 offence, to ensure that those who negligently cause crashes do not get bail easily and spend time behind bars. Schedule 5 offences include murder, attempted murder, rape, and fraud.



Eagle-eyed drones



Drones played an invaluable part in tracking the devastation and losses of the recent catastrophic fires in the Eastern Cape. They were also used to identify hot-spots most at risk of ‘flare-ups’, a role that is virtually impossible for firefighters on the ground. For insurance purposes, drones offer access to hard-to-reach areas, providing visual information relating to claims and post-disaster clean-up operations without putting lives at risk and getting in the way.




Growth potential for SA insurance industry


The SA insurance industry contributes more than 15% to the country’s GDP despite a low 14% penetration and there is significant potential for growth. However, within the short-term insurance industry, the cost of fraud is around R4.5 billion annually, with an estimated 30% of all claims being fraudulent. Insurers lose millions and absorb major losses that result in premium increases for all. While insurance fraud is becoming increasingly sophisticated, combating it is the responsibility of everyone within the insurance sector.



Testing CO2 levels



The University of Birmingham’s Institute of Forest Research intends exposing part of a mature forest in the West Midlands to high levels of carbon dioxide to see how the area copes with rising levels of the gas, a key factor in climate change. The Free Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment experiment intends to introduce the gas at levels that experts predict will be prevalent in 2050.


Can you afford safety features?


The South African “Entry-level” Vehicle Safety Report cites two key factors that affect vehicle purchase decisions: affordability and safety. In comparing safety equipment in entry-level vehicles, the AA set a price limit of R150 000 and examined each vehicle for what it regards as the “minimum” active and passive safety features. These include: an anti-lock braking system (ABS); airbags; and electronic stability control (ESC), a system that detects if the driver’s steering inputs are inconsistent with a vehicle’s direction of travel and applies the brakes appropriately to prevent the wheels from slipping, keeping the vehicle under control in hazardous conditions. Of the 23 cars under consideration, only one model had all the safety features installed as standard.


Transforming the insurance industry digitally


Swiss Re and major European insurers are testing blockchain to see how the online ledger that records all bitcoin (a global digital currency) transactions can make the industry more efficient. A significant number of banks are experimenting with the technology already. The Blockchain Insurance Industry Initiate or B3i looks at how distributed ledger technologies could better serve clients by offering faster, more secure services. Research by PricewaterhouseCoopers indicates that although insurers have been slower to explore crypto-currencies and the platforms that carry them, it could be an ideal way to streamline processes such as submitting claims, so reducing costs and complexity.


Costly dates

Zurich has again been voted the most expensive place for a romantic date. The cost of travel via taxi, a pub supper for two, soft drinks, two movie tickets and a couple of beers totals on average $195.90, 147% of the cost in seventh ranked New York, thanks to Switzerland’s strong currency.




Energy saving

British supermarket chain Tesco saves $7-million a year in energy costs through optimising its refrigeration systems. According to the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation, about a third of food produced for human consumption is wasted, despite organisations spending millions on tightening up supply chains.




Salty handles

An American man has developed door handles made from salt, which preserves food and kills bacteria. The so-called Superbug MRSA could only survive for five minutes on salt but lived for six hours on stainless steel. The inventor is creating doorknobs, faucets and toilet handles from animal salt licks. Hospitals have expressed an interest.



Extreme roadways


From Alaska to New Zealand, Pakistan to Italy, these roads are some of the most extreme in the world, combining high altitude, dangerous weather conditions and hairpin bends. Have look, and be thankful when next you head out on our tame highways!



$4.95 billion - according to Greenpeace, the cost in lost earnings of wind and solar power wasted in China, which is trying to embrace renewable energy.



R137 billion – amount spent on remuneration by South Africa’s 47 government departments during the 2015/16 fiscal year.



17 million – number of people receiving grants in 2016, more than those with jobs, which is estimated at 15.5 million by the Institute of Race Relations.


51 – number of products at the Museum of Failure in Helsingborg, Sweden. Included is a “Trump: The Game” board game from 1989 that sold just 800 000 units.



R69 000 – average amount earned a day by the JSE’s top 100 company executives, 500 times the average worker’s daily wage.



73 million – estimated population of South Africa by the year 2050, according to the newly issued United Nations World Population Prospects report.

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