RAC Cars News


Britain's Pothole Nightmare

By raccars Published

It is alleged that England and Wales will need to spend more than £10 billion to repair its network of crumbling roads, which leave numerous motorists suffering damage to their vehicles. The AA claims a third of motorists have made pothole damage-related insurance claims in the past two years. Economic effects aside, such poor quality road surfacing also raises safety issues.

With £33 billion raised by the government in fuel duty every year, it might be safe to assume the nation's roadways would be well-maintained, but according to Tony Ball, the Local Government Association's chairman of Transport, money needs to be spent on resurfacing, rather than constantly repairing deteriorating road surfaces. The current national pothole budget is £3 million annually but in 2011, £113 million was spent repairing potholes and £32 million was paid out in compensation for pothole damage.

Figures show that damage is three time more likely to occur on roads in Scotland and the North of England than in the South East. East Sussex is the safest retreat from potholes, with only 3.2% of motorists reporting pothole related damage. Average repair costs are estimated at £257, adding up to more than £1 million spent daily on axle and suspension damage caused by potholes in our roads. With the recent harsh winters, problems have only increased.

The scale of the problem is the result of years of underfunding in roads maintenance and, while George Osborne released £333 million dedicated to road maintenance in last year's autumn budget, consumer group studies have identified necessary works totalling £13 billion. With Scottish locations holding seven of the top ten places worst afflicted by potholes, the Southern counties of East Sussex, Somerset, Devon and Dorset are the safest regions for pothole avoidance. The central counties of Berkshire and Gloucestershire don't fare too well, but the worst affected regions are those with large numbers of quiet, rural roads, receiving low levels of traffic.

Drivers who suffer pothole damage can contact the local council to put in a claim for compensation, although claimants will have to be persistent to win a case, with many turned down. Claimants will need to supply a photo of the offending pothole, along with details of its rough size and depth, plus any other relevant information, such as a position on a blind corner. Even if compensation is not paid, councils do tend to respond to pressure by repairing damage, thereby helping to prevent future incidents.

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