South Africa has the 10th longest road network in the world with roughly 60% of the roads potholed and in need of maintenance. Reports have found that 80% of cases have left critical damage to cars, and not just the tyres.
Marius Steyn, Personal Lines Underwriting Manager at Santam says, “With the winter months rapidly approaching comes the impact of increased risk and degrading of the roads. One can never be prepared for the havoc that is caused.”
Potholes not only cause damages to your tyres but – if severe enough – also damage your vehicle’s rims, which can lead to a number of additional mechanical problems such as costly vehicle alignment and suspension issues.
“Potholes are a reality for our South African roads and affect thousand nationwide,” shares Steyn. “You’ll find the condition of the national road network in South Africa is in a pretty good state. However, when it comes to provincial and municipal areas, there is still a lot of work to be done.”
The Dos and don’ts of avoiding potholes:
Keep your eyes on the road. Because of the sun, potholes create a dark shadow on the road which you are able to spot from a distance. Maintain a safe driving speed if you are in a heavily affected region so that you have enough time to act and avoid danger.
Know to break or to go. If you spot a pothole too late and you are driving at a speed, it is best to go through it and not to break dramatically as it will cause the front wheel to stop turning and potentially get stuck. Release the break when entering the pothole as it would allow the front wheel to spin its way out of the hole.
Avoid high speed. If you hit a pothole at high speed, it has the potential to severely damage your vehicle which will need to be repaired. Common areas to succumb to damage are your tyres, wheel rims, steering wheel, suspensions, exhaust system and undercarriage.
Be aware of other drivers. If you are able to spot a pothole in time to break, first make sure there are no vehicles behind you to avoid another accident. Keep a safe following distance on the road so as to avoid hitting another car when encountering a pothole.
Be extra careful when it has been raining. Rainy weather can have an impact on pothole visibility and can cause serious damage to a vehicle if you are travelling at a speed.
What do I need in order to claim?
“As a driver make sure that you have car insurance that covers you for the unexpected,” concludes Steyn. Gradual wear and tear over a period due to normal road usage is not covered in terms of the policy. If you however drive through a pothole and this causes damage to your vehicle we would require you to submit a claim as soon as possible for safety reasons as the safety of you and your family is priority to us and secondly to prevent further damages to the vehicle.
Here are the key steps to take:
1. You need to contact your insurer to inform them of the incident and be sure to include the specifics of the indicant in terms of when, where and how the indicant occurred with exact time, date and location details.
2. It is also advisable to visit a tyre and wheel specialist soon after the indicant to confirm if the vehicle is safe for you to continue with your journey.
3. Finally, in the case of emergency repairs, always take photos of the damage to the vehicle.