BANG! Yes, we’ve all likely been there and hit a pothole whilst driving, that dreaded feeling of “oh God, how much was jolt going to cost ME” and it feels like your car is limping down the road from the impact!
Potholes have become a very common sight on UK roads, causing inconvenience and sometimes even serious damage to vehicles. Certainly, it seems to us we’re seeing more customers coming in asking for help due to pothole damage.
In this post, we’ll talk about the impact of potholes on UK roads, how they form, and what you can do to report them and claim compensation for any damage they cause to your motor.
How bad are potholes on UK roads?
Potholes are a major problem in the UK, with thousands of them appearing, seemingly out of nowhere, on roads every year. According to the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey, the cost of fixing potholes in England and Wales alone was estimated to be over £1 billion in 2020. This highlights the scale of the problem, which with more traffic and heavier cars on the road (EV’s are heavy!) will only get worse.
Is the problem increasing?
Yes, absolutely! The problem of potholes on UK roads is definitely increasing and we see the results pretty clearly here at our Chepstow garage.
Cold winters and heavy rainfall, as well as inadequate funding for road maintenance from councils and Highways England. It’s fairly common that the “patch and dash” approach, though cheap, eventually costs councils more in the long run whilst contributing to the overall increase in potholes.
Additionally, the rise in the number of vehicles on UK roads means that there is more wear and tear on the road surface than ever before, which leads to the formation of even more of the pesky things.
How much (in billions) does pothole damage cause to vehicle owners?
Potholes can cause significant damage to vehicles, including punctured tyres, damaged wheels, and even suspension problems. According to a survey by the RAC in 2018, the total cost of pothole-related damage to vehicles was estimated to be over £1.2 billion. This cost can be a significant burden for vehicle owners, especially for people on lower incomes.
How do potholes form?
Potholes are formed when water seeps into the road surface and freezes, causing the road to expand and crack. When the ice melts, it leaves behind a gap in the road surface. This gap is then further widened by the weight of passing vehicles, and eventually, a pothole is formed. The formation of potholes is exacerbated by heavy rainfall and the use of salt to de-ice roads, which can further weaken the road surface.
Common Types of Potholes
Here are 5 types of potholes commonly found on UK roads:
This type of pothole occurs when the pavement or road edge starts to break away, often due to weathering or erosion. As the edge continues to deteriorate, the pavement or road surface can collapse, creating a hole.
Patch failure potholes occur when a temporary fix to a road surface, such as a pothole patch, fails to properly bond with the existing pavement. This can lead to the patch becoming dislodged, resulting in a pothole.
Structural fatigue potholes occur when repeated traffic loads cause the road surface to break down over time. This can happen on high-traffic roads or on roads that are carrying heavier vehicles than they were designed for.
Potholes can also form when water seeps into the pavement or road surface and freezes, causing the surface to expand and crack. This can weaken the surface, making it more vulnerable to damage from traffic.
Settlement potholes occur when the ground underneath a road or pavement shifts or settles due to soil erosion, changes in moisture levels, or other factors. As the ground settles, it can cause the pavement or road surface to crack and collapse, creating a pothole.
These are just a few examples of the different types of potholes that can form on UK roads. It’s important to be aware of the different types of potholes so that drivers can take appropriate precautions when driving, such as reducing speed and maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles.
How to Report a Pothole
Reporting a pothole is important because it allows the relevant authorities to take action and repair the road before it causes any further damage. To report a pothole, you can contact your local council, who are responsible for maintaining the roads. Most councils have an online reporting system where you can provide details of the location and size of the pothole. Alternatively, you can contact your council’s customer service department or use their mobile app to report the pothole.
Making a Claim for a Pothole
If your vehicle is damaged by a pothole, you may be able to claim compensation from the relevant authority. To make a claim, you will need to provide evidence of the damage, such as photographs and repair bills. You will also need to provide details of the pothole, including its location and size, as well as the time and date of the incident. The relevant authority will then investigate your claim and decide whether to pay compensation.
What to do when your Car is Damaged by a Pothole
If your vehicle is damaged by a pothole, there are a few things you should do to ensure you have the best chance of making a successful claim. Firstly, take photographs of the pothole and the damage to your vehicle at the scene (if safe to do so). This will provide evidence of the size and location of the pothole, as well as the extent of the damage to your vehicle. Next, make a note of the time, date, and location of the incident. This information will be required when making a claim.
You should also get your vehicle checked by a competent or trained mechanic to assess the extent of the damage and provide a repair estimate, which you will need to submit along with your claim. Finally, make sure to keep all receipts and invoices related to the repair work, as these will be needed as evidence when making your claim.
By following these steps, you can increase your chances of making a successful claim for pothole damage to your vehicle.
Driving on Roads with Potholes
To minimise damage to your car when driving on a road with potholes, there are a few things you can do. Firstly, reduce your speed when approaching potholes, as this will give you more time to react and avoid them if possible. Additionally, try to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front, as this will give you more time to react if they hit a pothole. Finally, make sure your tyres are properly inflated and in good condition, as this can help to reduce the impact of hitting a pothole.
In conclusion, potholes are a major problem on UK roads, causing inconvenience and sometimes significant damage to vehicles. However, by reporting potholes and making claims for any damage caused, vehicle owners can hold the relevant authorities accountable and help to ensure that roads are properly maintained.
Additionally, by taking steps to minimise damage to their vehicles, drivers can reduce the impact of potholes and stay safe on the roads.
If you’ve hit a pot hole and are unsure of the damage we do recommend giving your local garage a call to arrange an inspection, it’s better to know if any damage has been done!