Pothole-related accident claims on the rise

01 December 2022 - 15:12
By Shonisani Tshikalange
An insurer has noted a 15% increase in pothole-related accident claims. Stock photo.
Image: Theo Jeptha An insurer has noted a 15% increase in pothole-related accident claims. Stock photo.

An insurer has recorded a 15% increase in pothole-related accident claims this year compared to last year — and a 9% increase in tyre damage claims that are the direct result of potholes.

Dodging potholes has fast become a professional sport but doing so can, and sometimes does, result in car accidents,” said head of Dialdirect Insurance Anneli Retief.

“Even if hitting a pothole doesn’t cause an accident, the damage is immense. 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.”

The insurer's pothole-related claims come from the following cities:

  • Pietermaritzburg (21%);
  • Pretoria (20%);
  • Potchefstroom (17%);
  • Bloemfontein (15%);
  • Johannesburg (14%); and
  • Durban (13%).  

According to the South African Road Federation (SARF), South Africa is home to 25-million potholes, 10-million more than there were five years ago.

Dialdirect said most of the pothole-related claims are logged from incidents that occurred during off-peak traffic times, when motorists tend to drive a bit faster.

“While our jointly sponsored pothole fixing initiative in Johannesburg, the Pothole Patrol, is making a considerable dent in ridding Johannesburg of potholes, more needs to be done to protect motorists and fill the gap in other provinces,” said Retief. 

Guidelines for navigating poorly maintained roads

Your car:

  • Make sure 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.
  • Make sure that the wheels and tyres that 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.
  • Low-profile tyres may give a vehicle a sportier look but reduce the space between the rim and the road surface. Fit tyres that are in the “Goldilocks zone” between being sporty, offering comfort and protecting against rough road surfaces. Ideally opt for tyres with rim protectors.
  • Make sure that your vehicle is equipped with the basic wheel changing tools and safety equipment.

Driving tips:

  • Always be fully aware of your surroundings, including road signs and technology that alert you to hazards.
  • Be careful when using a road or lane used by heavy motor vehicles as these typically deteriorate faster.
  • Be wary of steep road shoulders and surfaces with sharp debris, especially where they can damage the less robust side wall of a tyre.
  • Reducing speed could give you vital time to react to obstacles and other vehicles making sudden movements.
  • 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.
  • 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 of the steering wheel and avoid making excessive steering changes.


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