04 May 2017: Herman Mashaba, mayor of Johannesburg, recently revealed his plans to alleviate the city’s pothole problem by awarding R88 million to address the pothole repair backlog across the city. The Johannesburg Road Agency has also launched a new mobile app called Find & Fix, to allow citizens to quickly and easily report road related defects like potholes, missing manhole covers, defective traffic signals etc., in an effort to enhance service delivery.
This is according to Christelle Colman, Chief Executive Officer of Europ Assistance South Africa, who says that potholes causes major frustration among motorists as they can cause severe damage to a vehicle when it hits the pothole and the driver can be left stranded next to the road due to tyre punctures, rim impairments or damaged wheel alignment or suspension. “In extreme cases, vehicles can be written off and the occupants can be badly injured. By having roadside assistance service in place the motorists will at least have peace of mind that help is on its way should their vehicle not be driveable after hitting a pothole.”
She says that it is, however, worrying that the Johannesburg Roads Agency recently announced that it will need R1.38 billion per year for the next decade to be able to repair all the roads in the province. Due to the lack of maintenance, 48% of the roads in the area are classified as being in poor or very poor condition.
“There is generally no warning signs of potholes ahead and drivers often see the potential danger of a pothole when it is too late to swerve out of harm’s way, or another vehicle may approach from the front making it impossible for the driver to miss the pothole,” she states.
In the event of hitting a pothole that causes damage to the vehicle, she urges motorists to contact their emergency roadside assistance provider immediately. She explains that this service can prove to be extremely beneficial to the motorist, especially when considering personal safety.
“Should a motorist be travelling at night it is increasingly difficult to spot and avoid potholes and if they are stranded late at night in a deserted or dangerous area, this service can prove to be the difference between life and death. The roads in the deserted areas are generally in a worse condition compared to the highways, therefore the driver faces a bigger risk of hitting a pothole in those areas leaving them stranded in a dangerous area. It is also important that drivers have their dedicated emergency number saved on their phone, as many insurers insist that the policyholder only deals the specified emergency assistance provider in order for the policy benefit to pay out.”
Another reason why potholes are such a frustration for motorists is because the general motor insurance policy does not cover pothole damage to one’s tyres – the motorist will need a separate tyre insurance cover in order to claim for this damage. “Insurance policies will only pay a claim if hitting a pothole led to a bigger accident that caused damage to the vehicle, but will not pay for damage caused only by the tyres. Motorists, therefore, have to pay for new tyres out of their own pocket and this can become a costly affair if all four tyres have to be replaced on a regular basis,” she explains.
Colman urges all motorists to find out whether or not they have emergency roadside assistance services readily available to them through existing service providers, as most insurers or banks offer these services to their clients. “It is also important to ascertain exactly what service they have and what it offers.”
“Being stuck next to the road after hitting a pothole can become a very traumatic experience, but by having an emergency roadside assistance provider on speed-dial – this trauma and stress can be reduced significantly. This initiative is, however, a great first stride in making the country’s roads safer for all road users, with the aim of reducing the number of accidents and consequently also fatalities,” concludes Colman.