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4x4 stranded on a beach? What the law says in SA

2015-12-21 08:09

FLOODED VW: A VW Touareg was left stranded along Struisbaai, Western Cape. The owner told police that he wanted to test the vehicle's 4x4 capabilities. Image: Ronelle Wessels, Facebook

Struisbaai - Earlier in December, a Volkswagen Touareg was spotted submerged along the beach in Struisbaai, Western Cape.

According to News24, the owner told Struisbaai authorities that he wanted to test the vehicle's 4x4 capabilities.

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Struisbaai police said: "At the water's edge, the vehicle's electronic box got wet, causing the vehicle to seize. The owner abandoned the vehicle, and had to wait till day to arrange a tow. No foul play occurred and no cases were opened."

How not to drive 4x4

Pictures and video of the vehicle emerged on social media.

Facebook user Ronelle Wessels said on her page on Wednesday (December 16): "Went for a walk this morning on the beach and saw this car in the sea. No one in sight!"

Image by Ronelle Wessels, Facebook

What does the law say?

Recreational beach driving in the Western Cape was banned in 2001, though regulations were amended three years later to allow certain research and scientific organisations, among others, to drive in specified beach areas if they acquired a permit to do so.

Struisbaai police says: "There are restrictions for certain areas though in most cases, the restrictions are not 'set in law' but are more for nature conservation. Demarcated areas have only recently been identified.

"The area where the VW Touareg was stranded is restricted for the protection of the African Oystercatcher bird, better known as the Swarttobie (Haematopus moquini).

"As to the law, police will always act on an offence or crime but regarding beach restrictions we would use our discretion at the nature of the incident."

The City of Cape Town Traffic says: "There are many municipal by laws, but you can't really get arrested for driving on the beach, but you can be fined."

Read: Want to go off-road in SA? Top 4x4 terms you should know

What about the environment?

Off-road vehicles, including quad bikes, are reportedly damaging Western Cape tourist "hotspots", according to a 2014 National Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Report (NECER).

NECER said: "The degradation of the coastal environment was clearly visible due to ORV (Off-Road Vehicle) illegal driving, as well as the disturbance of the African black oystercatcher, which uses the coastal area as its breeding habitat."

Will your insurance cover the cost?

Driving through pools of large pools of water, especially if your vehicle isn't equipped do to so, can lead to potential engine damage. What's more, you might be in for a significant financial loss if your claim for damage to the engine is rejected by your insurer.

Brian Martin, ombudsman for SA Short-Term Insurance, said: "If your engine is damaged through water getting into the engine, without other damage to the vehicle, your insurer may decline liability for any claim for damage to the engine itself.

"This could leave you facing a very hefty bill."

Here’s a list of sand-driving tips:
  • Reduce tyre-pressure to improve traction
  • Drive smoothly with gear changes at high revs
  • Make sure your wheels are pointing straight before pulling away
  • Avoid soft sand at the base of dunes and gullies
  • Take turns as wide as possible
  • Travel straight up or down dunes
  • Follow in others' tyre tracks to drive on compressed ground
  • Avoid braking - coast to a stop
  • Don’t slam the accelerator if you are bogging down
  • If you’re stuck, try to reverse along your own tracks

Read more on:    western cape  |  4x4  |  off-road

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