Posted: Mon 15th Jan 2024

National Pothole Day: Call for urgent action on Britain’s pothole peril

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Jan 15th, 2024

British Cycling has today joined forces with road user and industry groups, calling for urgent action on Britain’s potholes, which pose an increasing and potentially fatal risk to cyclists.

A pothole is a large hole or depression on a road’s surface, typically caused by water under the asphalt and constant traffic. Potholes often begin as small cracks or eroded areas, worsening over time due to vehicle tyres.

Launched on National Pothole Day, the new Pothole Partnership has today delivered a five-point plan to UK government for tackling the issue, with a core focus on guaranteed funding and delivering high-quality repairs which last

The Pothole Partnership has been formed by the AA, the National Motorcyclists Council, British Cycling, IAM RoadSmart, the British Motorcyclists Federation and manufacturer JCB.

While potholes can damage vehicles, they’re potentially fatal for people on bikes, and we know that the failure to adequately tackle the issue is a longstanding barrier to getting more people riding on the road.

A campaign on potholes by Cycling Weekly in 2023 found that 118 bike riders were killed or seriously injured due to a defective road surface between 2017 and 2021, with six tragically losing their lives.

Caroline Julian, British Cycling’s External Affairs Director, said:

“We know from our members that potholes are a longstanding frustration and concern. They have tragic and fatal consequences that cannot be ignored. If we’re serious about fulfilling our ambitions to get more people cycling, we simply must ensure that our roads are safe and comfortable for them to ride on, and not the crater-filled carriageways they currently face.”

According to Go Compare, around 2.4 million potholes were reported across England and Wales between January 2020 and December 2022.

The previous record for pothole claims was in 2018, following the ‘Beast from the East’ storm, which caused a surge in vehicle damage due to poorly maintained roads.

Edmund King, President of the AA, added: “Last year AA patrols dealt with more than 600,000 pothole-related incidents which on a national scale will have cost drivers almost half a billion pounds. Currently, we often have a vicious circle of: pothole formed; damage caused; pothole patched; pothole reappears with more damage caused – when what we need are more permanent repairs. Potholes are the number one concern for 96% of drivers and can be fatal for those on two wheels so hopefully pressure from the Pothole Partnership will lead to permanent repairs.”

[Photo: RAC]

Drivers

Even at low speeds, driving over a deep pothole can cause damage to vehicles. Tyres, alloy wheels, steering alignment, wheel tracking and balancing, and suspension can all be affected. And as newer cars contain more advanced technology, repairs can be more costly to fix.

Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to claim any money back if your car is damaged on a British road, but it’s worth a try.

Below we explain why potholes are a problem and how to claim for pothole damage.

Potholes form when water seeps into small surface cracks, expanding and creating holes. Cold weather exacerbates this process, as water freezes and thaws in the cracks.

In the UK, we experience cold and wet winters, meaning they’re common on our roads.

The number of pothole-related claims doubled in December 2022 following the cold weather. It’s no surprise then that January to March are when 36% of our pothole claims occur.

March is a particularly heavy time for pothole problems, with 13% of compensation claims made during the month, which is more than any other.

Potholes cost Britain millions of pounds each year in compensation claims and repairs, and the cost is rising all the time. Our data shows the average cost of pothole damage related claims increased by 29% in 2023.

Here’s a guide on how to claim compensation for pothole damage:

  1. Collect your evidence – make a note of the pothole’s location, the time and date you hit it, and get a photo if it’s safe to do so. Then take your car to a garage for the damage to be assessed and get the mechanic’s report in writing; you’ll need this when making your case.
  2. Find out who’s responsible – determine who maintains the road, as different authorities are responsible. Local roads, B roads, and some smaller A roads are generally maintained by local councils in Wales, England and Scotland.
  3. Report it – once you know who’s in charge, make a claim. Include as much information as possible, including the mechanic’s report, repair costs, and any photos you’ve taken.
  4. Evaluate the offer – if the council’s offer is not satisfactory, be persistent. You have a right to reasonable compensation if the road has not been maintained properly.
  5. If the offer is rejected – seek legal advice or consider court action. This is usually only worth it for substantial repair costs
  1. Claiming on car insurance – If you have comprehensive cover, you can claim for pothole damage on your insurance. Consider the cost of the damage, your excess payments, and the impact on your No Claims Bonus.

Adam Gavin, Head of Motor Claims at Admiral, advises: “Potholes continue to cause problems for many motorists, and the cost of repairs is increasing as vehicles become more advanced. Not only is pothole-related damage dangerous and costly, but it can also be challenging to claim compensation from the responsible authority.”

To prevent pothole damage, apart from reporting any potholes you spot, drive carefully and be vigilant. We recommend:

  • Maintaining your tyres – properly inflated tyres can help provide protection when driving over a pothole, reducing the chance of a puncture.
  • Driving slowly over potholes – a high-speed impact increases the risk of serious damage to your car.
  • Keeping a firm grip on your steering wheel – this helps prevent veering off the road.

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