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What scares drivers?

2005-09-15 12:02

John Oxley

According to a new survey, a fear of having a puncture is the biggest thing on your mind!

Yes, that's what tyre company Goodyear would have you believe after conducting a survey among 9 250 drivers in 16 countries - 500 of whom were South Africans.

Now, I don't know about you, but having a puncture is the LAST thing on my mind. So I asked 10 people in the office, and not ONE mentioned having a puncture.

Most, in fact, fear having an accident, one worries constantly about traffic cops - although she's fully licenced - one stresses about not having enough petrol, and one is petrified about there being spiders inside the car that might jump on his (yes his) head!

Not one mentioned having a puncture, and when prompted, they all said that's the last thing on their minds because they know how to change a wheel.

No prompting

I think I have to state here that my survey wasn't at all scientific, although no-one knew why I was asking until after they had given their reply. Oh, and everyone I asked lives in Cape Town.

However, according to Goodyear four out of five South Africans worry more about being hurt in a car accident and breaking down in a dangerous place than being the victim of a terrorist attack or plane crash.

Fair enough. Plane crashes aren't common place in South Africa, and, touch wood, we seem to be out of the main stream when it comes to terrorism.

And Goodyear says when it comes to anxieties on the road South Africans are more worried about having a flat tyre (77%) than running out of petrol (68%).

Well, not people who work in our office!

So I suppose you're wondering what this is all leading up to.

Run-flat tyres

Goodyear is trying to punt its run-flat tyres. These allow you to continue driving (for about 80 km at up to 80 km/h) after you've had a flat, so you can get home (if you're within 80 km) or find someone to replace it (if there's a tyre place or garage open) without having to stop.

In fact, says Goodyear, run-flat tyres head the list of the most desired car accessories among both South African and European drivers.

Goodyear says 40% of South Africans cite them as their first choice "must-have accessory "ahead of other features including anti-hijacking systems (20%), ABS brakes (10%) and GPS navigation (9%).

Now steady on a bit!

According to another spot survey I did, more people in my office would rather put fake fur on their dashboards than splash out on a set of new run-flat tyres that take a big chunk out of their monthly take-home.


While I believe run-flat tyres have a place, and they are very good, there are a number of disadvantages.

Firstly, they are DAMNED expensive to buy, and likely to remain so for quite a while.

Secondly, if you puncture them, even if you only drive a short distance, you HAVE to replace them. They shouldn't be repaired.

Thirdly, most cars that come standard with run-flats - and Goodyear isn't the only manufacturer, Continental also makes them in SA - don't have a spare or any other "get-you-home" aid.

So if you puncture more than 80 km from help, you're stuffed.

Fourthly, because you can't always feel you have a flat (because they're so good) run-flat tyres should only be used in conjunction with an on-board tyre pressure monitoring system.

Not all cars have these, and it's another expense you have to factor in if you don't have one on your car.

The final problem with run-flats is that ride quality isn't nearly as good as that of "normal" tyres, because the whole run-flat thing is based on the tyres having extra-stiff side walls that support the weight of the car and prevent the flat tyre coming off the wheel rim.

  • Click here to find out how run-flats work.

    So, what else did Goodyear's survey find out?

    It says fear of a flat is most marked among women, with 87% rating it as a concern compared with 72% of men.

    The survey also states that drivers aged 35-54 are much more interested in having safety tyres than those in the pre- and post-family age group.

    Drivers from rural areas, where a flat tyre can mean being stranded on a remote road, are more likely to agree that safety tyres would be a great relief than city dwellers.

    When prompted as to what they are most likely to worry about in their every day lives, South African drivers overwhelmingly assert that having their car break down in a dangerous place (81%) tops their concern.

    Next, they fear being hurt in a car accident (80% of respondents), being mugged in the street (75%), or being the victim of a terrorist attack (70%).

    Of lesser concern is the possibility of eating something harmful (60%), being in a plane crash (60%), being stopped by the police (27%) or encountering a spider (24%).

    So there you have it Ryan - you're not the only one scared of spiders!


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