• Poor road conditions are on the increase in South Africa.
• Insurance claims have also increased, according to Auto & General.
• The insurance company shares tips on how to navigate poor roads in SA.
• For more motoring stories, go to www.Wheels24.co.za
Between January 2020 and January 2021, Auto & General Insurance has noticed a spike of 47% in tyre and rim claims, raising the question of whether poor road maintenance in South Africa is to blame.
Steep claim increases were observed in Gauteng, Kwa-Zulu Natal and Mpumalanga. Although claims have shown a steady increase for both men and women, a significant amount of claims were submitted by men aged between 31 and 37 who drive newer vehicles.
This is a significant increase, and badly maintained roads are a serious concern. One bad patch of road could lead to punctures, tyre bulges, bad wheel alignment and balancing, uneven tyre wear, cracked rims, damaged undercarriage, damaged tyre walls and blowouts. All of which could very well cost you your life.
Saied Solomons, President of the South African Road Federation (SARF), recently stated that roads that are not timeously and properly maintained are costing South Africa millions. These costs are soaring even higher when a lack of maintenance sees a road rapidly deteriorating to the point of requiring total road rehabilitation. Other knock-on effects that add to poorly maintained roads' real cost include frequent vehicle repairs, higher transportation costs, bottlenecks on busy routes, and more.
Auto & General provides the following guidelines for navigating poorly maintained roads:
- Proactive maintenance: Make sure that your car is checked and serviced regularly. A vehicle that is 100% ready to light up, steer around or meet challenging road surfaces are the best first line of defence.
- On spec: Make sure that the wheels and tyres you fit match the manufacturer's specification and that tyres are properly inflated to create an adequate cushion between the vehicle's rims and the road surface.
- Profile carefully: Low profile tyres may give a vehicle a sportier look, but reduce the space between the rim and the road surface. Tyres in the 'Goldilocks zone' offer a ride between being sporty, offering comfort and protection against rough road surfaces. Ideally, opt for tyres with rim protectors.
- Emergency kit: Make sure that your vehicle is equipped with the basic wheel changing tools and safety equipment.
- Alert & aware: Always be fully aware of your surroundings, including road signs and technology that alert you to hazards. - Heavy loads, rough roads: Be careful when using a road or lane used by heavy motor vehicles, as these typically deteriorate faster.
- Cuts like a knife: Be wary of steep road shoulders and surfaces with sharp debris, especially where they can damage the less robust sidewall of a tyre.
- Slow it down: Reducing speed could give you vital time to react to obstacles and other vehicles making sudden movements.
- Undercover threats: When it rains, water could easily hide a pothole or debris. The same goes for roads that are badly lit. Slow down and be extra cautious.
- Brake and steer smart: If you can't avoid hitting a pothole or bad road surface, apply the brakes before the hazard, but let up as you're about to make contact. This helps to limit damage and also reduces the risk of losing control of the vehicle. Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel and avoid making excessive steering changes.
In the event of a potentially damaging incident or accident:
- Don't assume that it's just minor damage. Stop when it is safe to do so to make sure.
- Switch on your hazard lights and, if possible and legal, pull into the emergency lane.
- Make sure that your vehicle remains visible - make use of your emergency triangle.
- Call emergency services and your insurer for assistance.
Aside from applying these tips and insisting that authorities step up to make our roads safer, it's absolutely vital to make sure that you have vehicle insurance - including tyre and rim cover - in place.
Ricardo Coetzee is the head of Auto & General Insurance.