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Potholes, tyre damage and claims


THE summer rains have wet the grounds and if you’re like me, I’m sure you’ve experienced some rather terrible traffic, courtesy of traffic lights not working.

The chaos left me with a few extra grey hairs on my head and additional time on the road, which I will never get back. We all know traffic is gradually getting worse each year with an additional 22 percent increase of vehicles on our roads in the last five years.

The problem with the increased traffic is that our infrastructure cannot handle the increased volumes. We had highway upgrades in 2010 in an effort to accommodate the rising number of vehicles on our roads and even then, these upgrades were not adequate enough to handle the increased numbers.

The recent spate of rain has caused additional problems, in the form of potholes. They’re a common sight on our roads now and it seems they occur faster than they’re repaired.

Your drive to work and home presents very different driving conditions each way, as the road surface seems to deteriorate and change in the space of a working day. For instance, on my way to work recently I hit a rough patch where potholes were forming, and while returning home in the evening, I was now confronted by the fully grown potholes, large enough to cause damage on a badly lit road.

The problems on our roads seem to be compounding and the truth is, this leaves the cash-strapped motorist forking out additional money for repairs to their vehicles.

In fact, people are starting to factor-in potholes when it comes to the maintenance of their cars. By this I mean that motorists have now decreased their expected mileage of their vehicle’s tyres from 60 000 to 50 000, because they know they’ll hit a pothole during the tyre’s lifespan and essentially lose one, while trying to rack up 60 000km.

However, what many of us aren’t aware of is that if your car gets damaged by road works or potholes while driving, you can claim from government.

Now I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but legally, you have a right to claim for the damages incurred from the pothole or road works.

Firstly, you need to establish the type of road you were driving on, either a national road (a highway like the N1 or N3) or a municipal road (these are residential roads).

Should the incident occur on a national road, which the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) is responsible for, claims for damages can be directed straight to Sanral. According to the Automobile Association of South Africa (AA), Sanral has contracts with road works companies to maintain these roads and an insurance policy is in place to cover claims for liability from us - the road users.

Thus, you can claim against Sanral, who will then direct it to the specific contractor for that part of the road. The claims get processed like any other car insurance claim and should the case be proven, you can receive retribution.

The process, however, works differently on municipal roads, which are maintained by different municipalities and the Department of Public Works.

If your vehicle is damaged on a municipal road, you’d have to approach the municipality where the incident occurred and acquire the relevant documentation, which would have to be completed and submitted to the correct department, before a claim can be made.

Some of the documentation required, as stated by the AA, includes your Identity Document as well as your driver’s licence with the registration details of the vehicle involved in the incident. A signed declaration by the claimant, stating what occurred as well as three written quotes for repair.

It’s also a good idea to have proof of the event, so take photographs, not only of the damage to the vehicle, but also of the pothole. This will strengthen your case.

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