Colin-on-Cars – Repairing the main arteries

Picking up where the system has failed – the Pothole Project has filled more than 2 500 potholes in Johannesburg roads since the project was launched in May.

Anneli Retief, Head of Dialdirect says: “We are pleased with the progress and difference made to date, but road conditions are a lot worse than we thought. We are repairing much bigger, deeper and more severe crevices and holes that occur as a result of digging during road construction or for creating a passage for the laying of pipes and fibre cables. These are not classified as potholes but rather, road defects or deep trenches requiring reinstatement.”

“If you combine the traditional, defined size of a pothole with the road defects and deep trenches, the Pothole Patrol has repaired the equivalent of 10 000 road defects to date, the equivalent of one rugby field,” says Anton Ossip, Chief Executive Officer of Discovery Insure.

“The Pothole Patrol is committed to repairing as many potholes as it can – typically at an impressive rate of 600 defects per week and is gearing up to be able to repair even more,” he adds.

So, what makes potholes so prolific? The answer lies in the way in which they are formed.

“A pothole is depression or a hollow in a road surface. They form when moisture or water seeps below the surface of the road and dislodges the base layer. As vehicles drive over them, more of the road surface chips away and the holes expand. The bigger and deeper they become, the more dangerous they are, causing damage to vehicles and sometimes accidents,” says Retief

And just because you emerge from the pothole without a flat tyre, do not assume there is nothing wrong with your car. There could be future problems with your alignment or suspension.

“Watch out for the tell-tale signs – your car pulling to one side of the road while driving or your car bouncing excessively on a smooth road. The best way to avoid any of these problems is to simply steer clear of the pothole altogether, which is easier said than done although not impossible,” says Retief.

black asphalt road near mountains under cloudy sky
Photo by Benjamin Suter on

By adhering to the tips below, you can save yourself thousands of rands of damage to your vehicle:

  • Don’t tailgate: If you are far enough behind the driver in front of you, you will have a better chance of taking an evasive manoeuvre with the extra space and avoid hitting the pothole.
  • Slow down: By doing so, you will be able to act accordingly when you see a pothole ahead.
  • Puddles contain hidden dangers: Use extreme caution when driving over puddles – what may appear as a level hole could contain a very deep pothole.
  • Pay special attention to your tyre pressure: Keeping tyre pressure consistently at the manufacturer’s recommendation. This will help protect your vehicle’s wheels and tyres from being damaged by pothole impact.
  • Hold the steering wheel tightly: Hold your steering wheel firmly and keep both hands on the wheel at all times. You don’t want to be thrown off course by a stray pothole.
  • If you’re going to hit a pothole, do not brake: Your car’s weight is distributed evenly between the front and rear axles. When you slow down or accelerate the weight distribution changes. When you brake, the front axle gets more weight, and when you accelerate, the rear axle gets more load. You have probably noticed that your car tilts forward when you brake, and tilts backwards when you accelerate. It does not seem like a big deal at first glance, but it is a big deal for your suspension. It is recommended that you release the brakes immediately before your car hits a pothole. When you brake heavily, your car tends to nose-dive. When you let off the brake, the car rocks back and you have more suspension over the front wheels, helping to absorb some of the blow.

“At the moment, the Pothole Patrol is working its magic in the City of Joburg on main arterial routes and roads on which vehicles typically drive at a high speed. The Pothole Patrol’s reporting functionality is in development and will be launched soon,” says Ossip.

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