Planning your journey – it’s not as simple as it used to be


Lewis Caroll said: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Unfortunately, Mr Caroll lived during the 19th Century and he most certainly did not live in South Africa.

According to the ¹South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL), South Africa has an estimated roads network of some 750,000 kilometres, of which only 158,124 kilometres were tarred as at 19 August 2014. Some of these tar roads are in a fair to good condition and, in a few cases, excellent condition and some may as well not be tarred since they are so pitted with potholes that they can hardly be defined as safe roads upon which to drive. Gravel roads bring with them their own set of problems, not least of which is that most city cars (and drivers) are simply not fit to drive on them.

In addition to this, a few of South Africa’s roads lead through some of the most treacherous and notorious, crime-ridden areas in the country where it is simply not safe to drive—no matter what time of the day or night you intend doing so.

It therefore makes enormous sense to ensure that you plan your journey meticulously ahead of time and, if possible, invest in a GPS navigation device to help you reach your destination safely and without the need to stop to consult a map book, or risk getting stuck in a remote or dangerous location.

But it is also important to bear in mind that the shortest route to a destination may not necessarily be the safest or quickest one, so you need to be careful when planning your journey and, for that matter, when choosing and setting up a GPS navigation device. Some of the higher end GPS navigation devices also include live traffic facilities to help you avoid congested routes, crashes and the like, and also incorporate warnings on high-crime zones which they actively avoid taking you through, as well as warnings for “high crash zones” so you can be extra vigilant.

Unfortunately there’s always the risk that the route that you plot may include roads in less than good condition, and hitting a pothole can be costly as well as being an inconvenient and potentially dangerous experience.

Although you can claim the damages caused to your vehicle by bad roads from the roads authority responsible for that road, this is almost always a tedious and time-consuming exercise which may or may not yield results; it therefore makes sense to be insured against the damages your vehicle can sustain when driving on a less than perfect road. Determining which roads authority is responsible for a particular road can also prove to be a challenging exercise, given the fact that there are literally hundreds of them in South Africa.

Comprehensive car insurance policies cover damages caused to your vehicle should you be unfortunate enough to have your vehicle damaged by everyday road hazards like potholes, and also include 24/7/365 roadside assistance so you don’t even need to get your hands dirty or get out of your vehicle should you be unfortunate enough to hit a pothole or break down. Why it is that, according to the ²AA less than 35% of all motor vehicles in South Africa are insured is, quite simply, mind boggling.

¹Source: SARF/IRF 2014

²Source 65% of SA cars NOT insured

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