Not only do potholes cause damage to our vehicles, but they can, and do, cause accidents, either from drivers hitting the potholes themselves or swerving to avoid them.
A Sunday Mirror investigation has now revealed the 10 worst places in Britain for potholes and they say road quality is better in Chile, Oman and Peru after freezing weather at the end of February resulted in even further damage to our roads.
Most affected roads in England
Mellor Brook Bypass, in Balderstone, Lancashire topped the list as the worst offender, with 545 pothole complaints made. The second most affected road, bringing in 216 complaints, was Seven Hills Road, in Elmbridge, Surrey, and the A345 in Wiltshire took third place for the number of reports made for potholes, with 208 complaints.
Top 10 worst roads for potholes
- Mellor Brook Bypass, Balderstone, Lancashire – 545 complaints
- Seven Hills Road, Elmbridge, Surrey – 216 complaints
- A345 in Wiltshire – 208 complaints
- Selsfield Road, West Hoathly, West Sussex – 200 complaints
- Main Road, Moulton, Cheshire – 185 complaints
- A595 in Cumbria – 171 complaints
- Attercliffe Road in Sheffield – 169 complaints
- A38 Kingsbury Road in Birmingham – 169 complaints
- Richmord Avenue, Telford, Shropshire – 168 complaints
- The road from West Serstone to Down St Mary in Devon – 162 complaints
Before the Sunday Mail’s research, Asphalt Industry Alliance said 24,500 miles of local roads will shut for repairs in the next year – and it will take at least 14 years to get rid of the backlog, costing £9.3billion.
The Government had planned to spend £296m from the Pothole Action Fund between 2016 and 2021 — enough to cover repairs for around six million potholes — but after the harsh winter weather earlier this year; the government increased it by £100m.
A national disgrace
In the first four months of 2018, The Automobile Association (AA) received more insurance claims due to potholes than in the whole of 2017 and say they’re rescuing record numbers of drivers whose tyres or wheels get damaged by potholes.
Janet Connor, Director of Insurance for the AA, said: “This year we are seeing a growing number of pothole claims described as: ‘car severely damaged and un-driveable’ which didn’t happen at all last year.
“Even the Secretary of State for Transport, who in March announced £100million funding to be sunk into road repairs, admitted we haven’t spent enough on the country’s roads since the 1980s.
“That fund is welcome but no-where near enough. The pothole epidemic has become nothing short of a national disgrace.”
According to the AA, average repair bills are £1,000, adding up to £4.2million, from drivers damaging their bodywork, axles, steering, suspension, tyres, and underbodies, with motorists losing control and having collisions.
They say typical pothole damage involves one or two tyres and sometimes a wheel rim and the damage doesn’t justify drivers having to pay the excess on a policy and lose their no-claims bonus or risk a price increase upon renewal. Due to this, most drivers cover the costs themselves and don’t make a claim.
Councillor Martin Tett, of the Local Government Association (LGA), said: “Only long-term, consistent and fairer investment in local roads can let councils embark on the improvements so desperately needed.”
He said the LGA has asked the Government to reinvest two pence per litre of existing fuel duty, to generate £1billion a year for councils to use for repairing local roads and to fill potholes.
Drivers aren’t the only victims of potholes. The Department for Transport figures show, between 2007 and 2016, 22 cyclists dying and 368 receiving serious injuries, due to accidents involving defective road surfaces.
Action after hitting a pothole
You must decide for yourself whether to put in a claim to your council for pothole damage. In the short-term, it puts councils under financial pressure and uses the taxpayers’ money, but if the public doesn’t make claims, roads may not get repaired when they should.
One member of the public hit the headlines this month after he contacted a council chief about damages he incurred from hitting a pothole.
Claimant, Jonathan Symms, received a response to his email to Sir Richard Leese explaining that due to the council making compensation payments for pothole damage, it was taking away resources they could spend on vital road repairs.
Sir Richard said, in an email to Mr Symms that, “The idea that councils have to take responsibility for every bit of people’s activity can’t be right – or the fact council services, including the limited money we have to repair roads, should be put at risk.”
If a member of the public makes a report of a pothole or the council discover one during road inspections and you hit the pothole before it’s repaired, you’re within your rights to seek compensation but, according to Government guidelines introduced in October 2016, potholes 40mm or below don’t qualify.
If your vehicle had a pre-existing problem, and the pothole made this worse, you can still claim but you won’t get the full repair costs back.
Local authorities aren’t liable to pay out on claims if they weren’t aware of the pothole beforehand, i.e., nobody had reported it to them and road inspections missed it. By law, councils have to carry out road inspections and repairs. So, if your claim gets rejected you can ask to see details of the council’s road inspection reports and try for a reclaim.
If you hit a pothole, pull over as soon as it’s safe and check for any damage to your wheels and tyres and, if safe to do so, take notes of the whereabouts of the pothole and photographs, too — include something in the photo to show scale, such as your foot. If you have witnesses, try to collect their contact details.
Even if you don’t spot immediate damage, listen for vibrations and watch for your steering wheel not centring, or the car pulling to one side. If any of these things occur, have your vehicle checked by a garage as soon as possible and ask your mechanic to put any findings in writing. Don’t ignore tracking or steering damage as both can be dangerous and expensive.
Get several quotes for repair work and keep every quote, invoice, and receipt if you’re intending to make a claim. Even if you’re not intending to make a claim, report the pothole to your council. Contact Highways England about potholes on motorways and A roads.
What condition are the roads where you live? Have you encountered damage to your vehicle because of a pothole? Did you make a claim to your council? Do you think the public should make claims for pothole damage? Let us know in the comments.