Updated: What to do if you hit a pothole

Potholes and the costly damage they cause are unfortunately a constant occurrence on South African roads, especially during rain when it’s hard to see them. Thankfully, Johannesburg motorists can now report potholes easily, with the launch of the new Pothole Patrol App.

Developed in partnership with Discovery Insure and DialDirect, the Pothole Patrol App allows drivers to report potholes using geolocation data. When reporting a pothole, users can upload their pinned location on a map, and a picture showing where the pothole is located.

Users can also view the status of their reported potholes within the app to follow up and ensure that they have been fixed. This can be done by registering through the app.

Download the Pothole Patrol app from either the Apple App Store or Google Play. Alternatively, WhatsApp the word ‘Hi’ to 084 768 4653 (084 POT HOLE) and follow the prompts.

Unfortunately, the app is currently only available in the Johannesburg area.

If you’re unfortunate enough to hit a pothole, stop your car in a safe place and check if there’s any visible damage from the pothole. If your tyre bursts, you’ll feel this immediately but there may be other more subtle damage even if the tyre doesn’t burst. Check underneath your car for any damage or leaks.

While driving, listen to ensure your exhaust sounds normal and is not making any strange noises. Also, notice if you feel your car pulling to one side. This is probably a sign that your wheels are no longer correctly aligned after hitting the pothole. You can get your wheels realigned at a tyre shop. Ensure you do this for safer driving, and to remain fuel-efficient.

If you feel the car swaying when you turn, your suspension could be damaged, and it’s important you get this checked out too. 

If there is damage to your car you have the option of either claiming from your insurance company, depending on what your policy covers, or from the municipality or other authority the road falls under.

You’ll need to contact your insurance company and confirm that your policy includes pothole cover and what the excess is. You cannot claim for the same damage twice, but if you decide not to claim from your insurance or are not covered you can follow the process below to claim back the cost from the government.

If the pothole was on a national road such as the N1 or N3 then you can claim from SANRAL (South African National Roads Agency)  otherwise, you’ll need to claim from the municipality the road falls under.

Each has slightly different requirements and you’ll need to contact them for the necessary forms, but in general, you must submit three quotes for the damage, details of the pothole and its location (taking photos of the pothole and the damage caused is recommended), along with your personal information and car registration. In some cases, you might require a police affidavit. 

If you would like to submit a pothole claim to government, click here for step-by-step instructions from Arrive Alive.

As with anything, prevention is better than cure, so remember to drive safely and within the speed limits, and always keep your eye on the road, to prevent pothole accidents.

To get a free Car Insurance quote, head here. MotorHappy has partnerships with most car insurers and can get you accurate quotes quickly for accidental damage from potholes, as well as theft and hijacking, accidental accident damage and third-party damages.

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