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Potholes: A guide to the continuing crisisBack

Motorists are being warned about the continued dangers of potholes following publication of last month’s Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey, which outlined the terrible state of Britain’s roads.

At present, there’s more that 24,000 miles of road in desperate need of repair during the next 12 months and one in five local roads are in danger of failing current safety guidelines in the next 5 years.

The state of Britain’s roads is an increasing problem for motorists who are increasingly baring the cost of repairs to paintwork, suspension and tyres, despite already paying for local road maintenance through their council tax.

In addition, the RAC has reported an increase in pothole related breakdowns during 2017, with approximately 10 per cent of RAC members being affected.

What is a pothole?

Potholes are formed by water penetrating the road’s surface through cracks. When temperatures fall and the water freezes, it expands causing the surface to rupture and create a pothole.

How are local councils dealing with the problem?

The pothole crisis is a challenge faced by every local council, but not every council uses the same method to prioritise repairs.

The government used to advise councils that holes measuring 40mm or deeper should be repaired, but since October 2016, local authorities have now been told that holes of this size should be “investigated” with councils then adopting their own ‘risk based’ approach.

Critics argue the new system increases the risk of future deaths, in particular to cyclists.

How can motorists stay safe on the road?

In order to stay safe on the road and avoid any potential vehicle damage, motorists should be aware of potholes. Below are a few tips for safe driving:

  1. Be aware of any potholes on regular journeys and take steps to avoid them where possible. If the pothole is increasing in size, it may be worth considering taking an alternative route.
  2. Keep your distance from cars in front as motorists may suddenly swerve or brake in order to miss a pothole.
  3. If you spot a pothole approaching, apply your brakes slowly and drive straight through the pothole or slowly manoeuvre around it.
  4. Stick to the speed limits on smaller roads and residential streets where potholes may be prevalent. Hitting a pothole at speed can cause more damage to your vehicle.
  5. Never swerve to avoid a pothole. Many motorists think it is better to avoid the pothole altogether, but if you catch the edge of the pothole whilst swerving to avoid it you could cause more damage to your vehicle.

Taking action against potholes

  • If you notice any dangerous potholes in your area, make sure you report them to your local authority – they cannot be liable for a defect in the road if they are not made aware of it.
  • Visit your local council website to follow the correct procedure for reporting a pothole.
  • Remember that if you spot a pothole on a main road, you need to report it to national agencies such as Highways England, not your local authority. Visit¬†or call 0300 123 5000. This number is available 24 hours a day.

Claiming for pothole damage

If you feel you have a valid claim for pothole damage, follow some simple procedures below:

  1. Be able to provide the exact location of the pothole
  2. Provide approximate dimensions of the width and depth of the pothole
  3. If safe to do so, stop your car and get out to examine the pothole in more detail. Take photos, but without putting yourself at risk.
  4. Obtain quotes for any repairs you think are required, and keep copies of these along with receipts and invoices if they form part of your claim.
  5. Write to the local authority, including all the above details and requesting a settlement of your claim.


Posted by Leana Kell on 18/04/2018