Avoiding the pothole scourge: Here are tips worth remembering
A claimed 80% of South Africa's roads are more than 20 years old and likely to degrade further without regular maintenance.
A familiar sight on South African roads. Image: supplied.
The ducking and diving “dance” on the country’s roads in order to avoid potholes is becoming ever more frequent and in some instances, a way of normality with no apparent end in sight.
In a most recent admission to The Citizen this month, Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) admitted that a total of R24 863 137 had been paid to motorists in the third quarter of 2022, as a result of pothole related vehicle damage.
Road to recovery not visible
The agency’s spokesperson, Zoleka Jika, also stated that in February alone, 12 281 potholes were reported across the City of Johannesburg.
In addition, a reported 25 million potholes are said to be present across the country roads, some reportedly in such a bad state that motorists have no alternative but to drive alongside in order to avoid damaging their vehicles.
It doesn’t stop there though as, according to a new report by Sumitomo Rubber South Africa, the local importer responsible for Falken, Dunlop and Sumimoto tyres, around 750 000km or 80% of the country’s roads are older than 20 years and, therefore, highly prone to breaking-up due to a lack of maintenance.
“They’re caused by a combination of heavy traffic, poor maintenance, and harsh weather conditions, starting as small cracks in the road surface, and becoming bigger over time due to the weight of passing vehicles and exposure to rain, heat and cold,” Sumitomo said in a statement.
Consider the following
Despite the challenges and annoyance associated with potholes, the organisation has provided the following tips motorists should take into consideration when faced with the growing scourge of pothole laced roads.
Keep your eyes peeled while you’re on the road, as even a small, insignificant pothole can have a serious knock-on effect on tyres, or can lead to a potential tyre failure at speed.
If you spot a puddle or a pothole ahead, be sure to slow down as you navigate past it. Keep enough space between you and the vehicle in front to ensure you have a clear view of the road surface ahead.
“If you’re forced to drive over a pothole, keep a firm grip on the steering wheel. Slow down before the pothole, rather than suddenly braking only when you drive over it, as this could cause even worse damage to your wheel further.
Record the damage
If you do happen to hit a pothole, try not to panic. Get out of your vehicle, if safe to do so, and record the evidence and any damage immediately with your smartphone.
Just as important if not more, Sumitomo advises motorists to immediately take-out tyre insurance and report pothole hotspots via the Pothole Patrol app from one’s smartphone.
“Potholes are certainly a nuisance, but we can still all do our part by being vigilant on the road and taking care of our vehicles and tyres,” it concludes.
Besides alerting the Pothole Patrol, motorists can also call Sihamba Sonke hotline on 086 176 2847.
Compiled by Charl Bosch