Rain and flooding cause accidents

Some of Vanderbijlpark's roads resembled rivers in flood over the past two weeks, when heavy rainfall was experienced in many parts of the Vaal Triangle. Road conditions like these make motorists more prone to accidents as roads are slippery, and dangerous potholes are hidden by the water. Photo: Mario Barnard

The severity of flooding and damage we are experiencing in South Africa over the past five years, is alarming, says Aon South Africa, a global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions.

In the Vaal Triangle, at least four serious accidents in the past four weeks can be attributed to rainy weather, potholes or slippery roads.

Many Vaal Triangle residents reported heavy rainfall in their areas. Denise Engelbrecht of Vaalview near Vanderbijlpark reported 148 mm, of which 56 mm fell in only 36 hours.

Pieter Visser, a Catastrophe Analyst at Aon South Africa says that combined catastrophe insured losses for South Africa in 2017 was the highest ever recorded.

“Insurance released more than R5 billion towards affected parties, which is absolutely necessary to rejuvenate economic recovery and renewal in affected regions,” he says. “Reinsurers do not regard South Africa as a low catastrophe risk region anymore, with the country having experienced a high frequency of large loss events in the last five years. This is now regarded as the new normal and has resulted in adjustments and steep price increases by reinsurers.

Aon provides the following advice to motorists driving in wet weather:

* Take special note of weather warnings and if possible, avoid being on the road during such times.

* If you can, rather avoid driving in heavy downpours. Treacherous potholes could be hiding in the guise of a puddle. Never attempt to drive through a flooded area of the road – even a few centimetres of water is powerful enough to sweep a car away.

* If caught in a flash flood on the road, get yourself to safety as quickly as possible – if you can, get out of the vehicle and get to high ground. Don’t close all the windows as the water will cause a vacuum and trap you in the car.

* Many car accident claims are due to slippery roads and potholes. Tyre damage is not an uncommon

occurrence and is normally not covered by a motor insurance policy unless another part of the vehicle is damaged at the same time.

* Check your tyre tread and replace worn tyres – an accident claim could potentially be repudiated if the tread is deemed insufficient to have stopped the vehicle in time. The legally required minimum tread depth is 1.6mm.

* Increase your following distance and reduce your speed to allow enough time to react.

* Watch for motorists swerving to avoid objects in the road and be prepared to do the same.

* Many traffic lights are out of order during heavy rain, so drive carefully.

* Roads are congested with many tempers fraying. Keep your cool.


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