Did you know that you can be held responsible for damages when crashing into a traffic light? | Car Insurance

Last updated: 05-07-2020

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Did you know that you can be held responsible for damages when crashing into a traffic light? | Car Insurance

After every weekend we drive past intersections where we observe badly damaged and run-over traffic lights. Have you ever considered what the costs are to repair these traffic lights and whether the reckless driver can be held liable for these costs?

We approached the Road Safety experts of the City of Cape Town and enquired about these costs.

The cost varies depending on the damage to our street-furniture. If it is only a pole that is knocked the cost can be up to R10,000. If it is a controller or overhead pole the cost could easily be in the region of R80,000.

The City does have a cost recovery unit that does the investigation after an accident. The individual responsible for the damage is then charged with actual costs to affect the repairs.

Would your car Insurance policy cover such a claim for damages to traffic lights?

We raised this question with OUTsurance and Gerrit Van Eeden assisted with an answer:

“You would be very correct in saying the local government would have a claim against an individual in such a case.

And indeed, this would also form part of a client’s liability cover.

We will thus be in a position to assist our client should there be a claim of such a nature depending obviously on what type cover they have in place.”

It is important though to consider the following as well:

You can be held liable if it is found that you have caused the damage  – there would have to be a finding of negligence. If you took evasive action to avoid crashing into another vehicle  – and the reasonable man/ driver would have done the same – you can not be held accountable. If you were driving drunk or texting and driving while crashing into the traffic light – you will be acting negligently and can be held liable for damages. If you were negligent and did not obey the Rules of the Road, i.e. were driving drunk and texting and driving – your car insurance will not provide you with cover as you are in breach of contract with regards to your car insurance policy!


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